Caloric labelling on menus is nothing new

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

Re: Education Minister cautious on ‘obsession’ with cafeteria calories, Sept. 18 The News.

As a working mother, I know it’s often a luxury to be able to sit down for a homemade meal. With many families forced to hit the drive-thru between soccer games and swimming lessons, I think it’s reasonable for parents and children to be able to have the information they need to choose healthier options for their families on-the-go.

The Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) recent report, Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity, found that a quarter of Canadian children are overweight or obese and 75 per cent of obese children become obese adults. That’s why the OMA has called for the introduction of legislation that would require chain restaurants and school cafeterias to prominently post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. In letters to major chain restaurants, municipal leaders and the boards of education across Ontario, we have asked that they join us in the fight against obesity and to provide Ontarians with the information they deserve to make healthier choices at the point of purchase.

Ontario’s doctors believe that it is important to include calorie counts on the menus in school cafeterias so that our children will grow up learning the information they need to build healthy futures. While some have suggested putting an emphasis on calories may adversely affect some young people, there is no evidence that teaching kids about calories increases the rate of eating disorders. In fact, the OMA is recommending an education campaign to complement calorie labelling that would help teach children that there is a maximum, as well as a minimum, amount of calories necessary for good health.

According to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, there are 33 restaurant chains in Canada that provide nutrition information through brochures, posters and web sites and they are to be commended for making this information available. However, this information is ineffective unless it is in plain sight at the point of purchase.

A recent study by Yale University showed how few people actually consult nutritional information that is not right in front of them. Researchers observed 4,311 people at fast-food restaurants that did not have calories listed on the menu, but did have this information available elsewhere. Surprisingly, only six of them looked at the nutritional information provided in the form of a poster, in a pamphlet or on a special touchscreen computer; calorie information has to be on the menu itself. Some say that re-doing menus is too onerous for restaurants, but it’s clear to us that chain restaurant menus often change with seasonal specials and as new products are added. The concept of caloric labelling on menus is nothing new. In fact, 25 states in the U. S. have implemented, passed or introduced legislation that would require calories to be listed on menus and menu boards.

It appears that this concept is gaining some momentum in Ontario as well. Specifically, we were encouraged to learn that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will require their high school cafeterias to post the calorie counts of all menu items. More recently, at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Annual Conference in August, an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of municipal leaders surveyed said that they support menu board labelling as an effective means of combating obesity in this province. It’s time for chain restaurants to take the first step.

Ontario’s doctors first sounded the alarm on obesity in 2005 when we revealed that we may be raising the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents. Unfortunately, today not much has changed. Obesity is an epidemic that needs immediate action. Caloric labelling on menus is a simple and effective way to help patients make better choices for their own health.

Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, MD President, Ontario Medical Association

Caloric labelling on menus is nothing new

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

Re: Education Minister cautious on ‘obsession’ with cafeteria calories, Sept. 18 The News.

As a working mother, I know it’s often a luxury to be able to sit down for a homemade meal. With many families forced to hit the drive-thru between soccer games and swimming lessons, I think it’s reasonable for parents and children to be able to have the information they need to choose healthier options for their families on-the-go.

The Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) recent report, Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity, found that a quarter of Canadian children are overweight or obese and 75 per cent of obese children become obese adults. That’s why the OMA has called for the introduction of legislation that would require chain restaurants and school cafeterias to prominently post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. In letters to major chain restaurants, municipal leaders and the boards of education across Ontario, we have asked that they join us in the fight against obesity and to provide Ontarians with the information they deserve to make healthier choices at the point of purchase.

Ontario’s doctors believe that it is important to include calorie counts on the menus in school cafeterias so that our children will grow up learning the information they need to build healthy futures. While some have suggested putting an emphasis on calories may adversely affect some young people, there is no evidence that teaching kids about calories increases the rate of eating disorders. In fact, the OMA is recommending an education campaign to complement calorie labelling that would help teach children that there is a maximum, as well as a minimum, amount of calories necessary for good health.

According to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, there are 33 restaurant chains in Canada that provide nutrition information through brochures, posters and web sites and they are to be commended for making this information available. However, this information is ineffective unless it is in plain sight at the point of purchase.

A recent study by Yale University showed how few people actually consult nutritional information that is not right in front of them. Researchers observed 4,311 people at fast-food restaurants that did not have calories listed on the menu, but did have this information available elsewhere. Surprisingly, only six of them looked at the nutritional information provided in the form of a poster, in a pamphlet or on a special touchscreen computer; calorie information has to be on the menu itself. Some say that re-doing menus is too onerous for restaurants, but it’s clear to us that chain restaurant menus often change with seasonal specials and as new products are added. The concept of caloric labelling on menus is nothing new. In fact, 25 states in the U. S. have implemented, passed or introduced legislation that would require calories to be listed on menus and menu boards.

It appears that this concept is gaining some momentum in Ontario as well. Specifically, we were encouraged to learn that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will require their high school cafeterias to post the calorie counts of all menu items. More recently, at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Annual Conference in August, an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of municipal leaders surveyed said that they support menu board labelling as an effective means of combating obesity in this province. It’s time for chain restaurants to take the first step.

Ontario’s doctors first sounded the alarm on obesity in 2005 when we revealed that we may be raising the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents. Unfortunately, today not much has changed. Obesity is an epidemic that needs immediate action. Caloric labelling on menus is a simple and effective way to help patients make better choices for their own health.

Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, MD President, Ontario Medical Association

Caloric labelling on menus is nothing new

News Oct 15, 2009 Ancaster News

Re: Education Minister cautious on ‘obsession’ with cafeteria calories, Sept. 18 The News.

As a working mother, I know it’s often a luxury to be able to sit down for a homemade meal. With many families forced to hit the drive-thru between soccer games and swimming lessons, I think it’s reasonable for parents and children to be able to have the information they need to choose healthier options for their families on-the-go.

The Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) recent report, Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity, found that a quarter of Canadian children are overweight or obese and 75 per cent of obese children become obese adults. That’s why the OMA has called for the introduction of legislation that would require chain restaurants and school cafeterias to prominently post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. In letters to major chain restaurants, municipal leaders and the boards of education across Ontario, we have asked that they join us in the fight against obesity and to provide Ontarians with the information they deserve to make healthier choices at the point of purchase.

Ontario’s doctors believe that it is important to include calorie counts on the menus in school cafeterias so that our children will grow up learning the information they need to build healthy futures. While some have suggested putting an emphasis on calories may adversely affect some young people, there is no evidence that teaching kids about calories increases the rate of eating disorders. In fact, the OMA is recommending an education campaign to complement calorie labelling that would help teach children that there is a maximum, as well as a minimum, amount of calories necessary for good health.

According to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, there are 33 restaurant chains in Canada that provide nutrition information through brochures, posters and web sites and they are to be commended for making this information available. However, this information is ineffective unless it is in plain sight at the point of purchase.

A recent study by Yale University showed how few people actually consult nutritional information that is not right in front of them. Researchers observed 4,311 people at fast-food restaurants that did not have calories listed on the menu, but did have this information available elsewhere. Surprisingly, only six of them looked at the nutritional information provided in the form of a poster, in a pamphlet or on a special touchscreen computer; calorie information has to be on the menu itself. Some say that re-doing menus is too onerous for restaurants, but it’s clear to us that chain restaurant menus often change with seasonal specials and as new products are added. The concept of caloric labelling on menus is nothing new. In fact, 25 states in the U. S. have implemented, passed or introduced legislation that would require calories to be listed on menus and menu boards.

It appears that this concept is gaining some momentum in Ontario as well. Specifically, we were encouraged to learn that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will require their high school cafeterias to post the calorie counts of all menu items. More recently, at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Annual Conference in August, an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of municipal leaders surveyed said that they support menu board labelling as an effective means of combating obesity in this province. It’s time for chain restaurants to take the first step.

Ontario’s doctors first sounded the alarm on obesity in 2005 when we revealed that we may be raising the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents. Unfortunately, today not much has changed. Obesity is an epidemic that needs immediate action. Caloric labelling on menus is a simple and effective way to help patients make better choices for their own health.

Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, MD President, Ontario Medical Association