According to a recent study of New York City diners, only one-sixth of fast food customers pay attention to the calorie counts that are now listed on menus.
Those who do take notice of the calorie counts eat fewer calories, however, which is encouraging. The key, according to TIME, is putting the information in the same place in the same font as the rest of the menu details. “Most restaurants only matched calorie stat fonts and sizes to menu items some time after the ruling was implemented,” the story says.
With obesity a continued health concern in this country, communicating information about what and how we should be eating has reached the legislative level. A new law will go into effect that will be adding calorie counts to an additional 200,000 fast food restaurants around the country. And we have a new nutrition guide that’s meant to clarify what it means to eat healthfully. Fast food brands will now have to make certain concessions about how good their food is for their customers.
No fast food restaurant, or any brand in the food and beverage category, wants to be seen as negligent about the nation’s health concerns and the well-being of its customers. At the same time, no brand wants to admit that eating their food will harden your arteries.
McDonald’s will be rolling out a “healthier” version of its Happy Meal in September, which will include apples and fewer fries (kids can keep the toy). It’s still a meal of burgers and colas, but with the addition of fruit, McDonald’s can say it did something to address customer concerns. BlogHer quotes the Fooducate blog, which said it’s “a brilliant PR move.”
“While small, the change is significant on one way – it has shown that public pressure works people. The more we push, the more the food industry will listen,” the blog said.
Fast food chains will never really admit the poor health that can come from eating their food regularly. But good PR people will tell them that being obstinate will hurt their business. So these brands will have to admit that there are certain options that might be better than the burgers/fries/chicken fingers/soda they specialize in and they’re going to offer them to you in case that’s something you’re concerned about. And because they care, of course.