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How Many Calories Do You Consume While Eating Out? FDA Wants You To Know

The Short of It

While eating out at fast food restaurants, how many times have you found yourself thinking, "It can't be that bad for me...?" Well, soon you'll be forced to face the truth, that maybe it is. Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that chain restaurants with at least 20 locations will be required to post the calories in their menu offerings.

The Lowdown

This new FDA measure seems to be prompted by the fact that on average, Americans are spending half of their food dollars eating away from their homes. And the obesity epidemic continues to, well, grow.

"Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home, and people today expect clear information about the products they consume," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement.

So a year from now, expect to see calorie counts on menus at fast food joints, pizza restaurants, movie theaters (do we even want to know how many calories are in a large tub of buttered popcorn?), convenience stores, and on vending machines. Even some single serve grocery store items and alcoholic beverages are included in the new ruling.

Yup, no matter where you're sneaking a snack, you'll be held accountable by the FDA. But maybe that's a good thing.

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest told The New York Times: "Right now, you are totally guessing at what you are getting. This rule will change that."

The Upshot

According to NPR, listing calories on foods has only been shown to be effective for some people. For some, seeing exactly what they're eating is almost like a rude awakening. But nutritional information is not a deterrent against overeating for others.

Hopefully, the restaurants affected by this new ruling will also take this opportunity to review their menu offerings. If consumers stop buying the calorie-laden foods and drinks they once consumed without thinking twice, perhaps healthier options will become more popular due to natural supply and demand.

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