…might be all the calories your body needs for the day! It is no mystery that obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S.. Our lack of control over weight maintenance is such a significant health crisis that legislation is being written and enacted to “save us from ourselves”. Some of the lawmakers give consumers the benefit of the doubt; for example, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA)
passed in 1990 and enacted in 1994 required all foods packaged and sold in grocery stores or food marts to bear Nutrition Facts panels, which inform consumers of not only fat and calorie contents, but also the “good” information such as protein and vitamins. More importantly, the panels have to also indicate percent daily values. Basically, lawmakers went so far as to assume that the customer is uneducated as to what their body needs each day. And yet, 18 years later, obesity is still on the rise.
Lawmakers seem to think the consumer simply cannot be to blame, and it seems that they have turned the attack on the Food-away-from-home (FAFH) sector. In 2008, New York was the first state to mandate that restaurants post or provide nutrition content in menu items. Some California cities now do this as well. Obesity is still on the rise, and studies on the impact of these changes
have showed weak results and minimal change. Just weeks ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to sign into law an act which banned the sale of soft drink larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, convenience marts and movie theaters.
If the 2012 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is enacted, soon nutrition content labeling in the FAFH sector will be a federal mandate. This seems like a good idea to me, since today in the U.S. We eat about 40 percent of our food intake away from home. But is lack of information really our dilemma? A study which looked at how and why Americans eat fast food showed that 50 percent considered it a “treat”, and have no interest in health when ordering from a fast-food menu.
I think it’s great that our government is concerned about our health, but people need to take some personal responsibility . I feel that weight gain itself is enough of a physical cue that whatever we are eating, it is more than we need. To claim consumer ignorance to nutrition content is a huge cop-out and unneccessarily points a finger in the wrong direction.