Many cities and counties around the country have imposed regulations that require restaurants to post the calories of all their meals. Big brother’s reason for the legislation? Once consumers saw the ramifications, i.e., number of calories, of their dietary choices, they would opt for a healthier one. However, not surprisingly, the evidence is indicating that mandatory labeling is having no effect on consumer choices.
“There is a great concern among many of the people who study calorie labeling that the policy has moved way beyond the science and that it would be beneficial to slow down,” said George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University who studies calorie labeling. In a recent editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he asked: “Given the lack of evidence that calorie posting reduces calorie intake, why is the enthusiasm for the policy so pervasive?”
“In New York, the first big city to adopt menu labeling, NYU researchers studied the eating choices of low-income fast-food diners, focusing on those who saw the labels. “Even those who indicated that the calorie information influenced their food choices did not actually purchase fewer calories,” the study says.”
If human beings always based decisions on whether something they were doing was unhealthy, we wouldn’t have so many doing drugs, becoming obese or smoking. The fact is, most people disregard obvious information, even if it’s unhealthy, when it’s in-congruent with what they want.