News 062: Displaying calories does not help

The Hard Truth – Just stating Calories does not work

Based on third party information.

Researchers at New York University have found that calorie-posting in fast-food restaurants has little influence on the foods teenagers order.

And guess who is best in having the best information about calories on the packaging – fast food places. They seem to know that it will help them with public relations but have no impact on sales.

In the study they found that more than half of the teenagers noticed the calorie postings. A quarter of the teenagers said they were weight-conscious, and 9 percent of the teenagers said the labeling made them buy lower-calorie foods.

But when the researchers examined their receipts, they found that the actual calorie counts were the same before and after restaurants began posting calories. Teenagers typically bought food totaling about 725 calories.

In an earlier study released in 2009 by some of the same researchers found that 28 percent of adults said they had been influenced by calorie posting. But when the researchers checked receipts, they found that the adults had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories after restaurants began posting calorie counts.

It is scary to read that the study also looked at parents buying food for their children, and found that their calorie purchases remained the same, about 600 calories, before and after calorie posting. And guess what these calories are about 25 % of the daily needs.

The vast majority of teenagers — more than 70 percent — said that taste in this study was the most important consideration in their fast-food purchases, followed by cost.

The is a shocking comment the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania strongly believes. Kids are trained in young age what they like as food. If they eat fast food in young age they will like the taste later in adult life. So if teenager really like foods full of salt, fat and sugar and lots of empty calories because of taste it is a bad indicator for the future.

The study found that most teenagers underestimated the number of calories they were consuming, some by up to 466 calories.

For us at the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania it would be interesting to understand what actual the understanding of young people of calories is.

About a third of the teenagers ate fast food six days a week, according to the study. The study, was published Feb. 15 in the online International Journal of Obesity, was conducted in the summer of 2008, shortly after New York City began requiring restaurant chains to post calories as part of the city’s war on obesity.

Again, a small comment here by the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania. Six times a week is at least five times too many.

The study could be done due to the legal requirements in New York City for all chain restaurantst to start posting the calorie count. So the study looked at teenagers shopping at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC in low-income neighborhoods of New York City before and after calorie posting and compared them with teenagers in Newark, which did not require calorie posting.

The understanding of the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania:

  • Fast Food chains understand that calorie counts will not stop people from buying their products, one reason why the actually might be the best in posting these facts on their packages
  • It is scary to hear that people eat fast food because of its taste
  • It is scary to hear that some teenagers practically eat every day fast food
  • Stating calories does not help, only a deep education on the impact of fast food on the body and the provision of clear and healthy alternatives will help
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