McDonald’s Posts Calories On Menus — The Obesity Epidemic Is Over!

I’m pleased to announce that the obesity epidemic will soon be a thing of the past.  I know it’s about to end because McDonald’s has announced it will start posting calorie counts on its menu boards:

Starting next week, if you want to know how many calories are in a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (750) in comparison to a plain hamburger (250), you’ll only need to glance up at the menu.

See, that’s been the missing ingredient all along:  in-your-face calorie counts.  Experts on human metabolism ranging from Morgan Spurlock to MeMe Roth to Mayor Michael Bloomberg realized long ago that people who want to lose weight can’t be bothered to look at an easily-accessible menu or go online to find out how many calories they’re consuming.  So the experts have been pushing for calorie-count menu boards for years as a solution to obesity.  Now they’ll finally see their dream come true.

The fast-food giant announced this morning that they’ll voluntarily begin posting calorie information on all menu boards, including the drive-thru. The move is expected to send rival chains scrambling to do the same.

And we don’t need to concern ourselves with any nanny-state interference because the move by McDonald’s was voluntary, you see.  Or was it?

McDonald’s says they’re just trying to help customers and employees make informed nutritional choices, but skeptics say the move isn’t purely based on concern over health concerns and skyrocketing obesity rates.

“The decision to post calorie information follows the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, which includes a regulation that would require restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to post calorie information. The timetable for carrying out that requirement has yet to be worked out,” writes Candice Choi for the Associated Press.

In other words, McDonald’s volunteered to post calorie information because the federal government told them they were going to volunteer.  I’ll bet when my grandfather was drafted to fight in the Pacific during World War II, he didn’t realize he was actually a volunteer.

Setting aside the ridiculousness of “voluntary” compliance with nanny-state laws, the question is:  will posting calorie counts on menus make any difference?  Will those menus prompt fat people to eat less overall and lose weight?

No, of course they won’t.  The busybodies who want us all confronted with calorie counts are assuming that fat people aren’t aware of how much they eat.  If they could just be informed that they’re overeating, then by gosh, they’ll eat less and lose weight.  That makes about as much sense as suggesting that if I just put less gas in my car, I’ll get better gas mileage.

People whose hormones have put them in fat-accumulation mode aren’t in a state of energy balance unless they’re eating more and getting fatter.  And once they’re fat, they can’t remain in a state of energy balance — homeostasis — unless they remain fat.  As Gary Taubes explained in Good Calories, Bad Calories:

Clinicians who treat obese patients invariably assume that the energy or caloric requirements of these individuals is the amount of calories they can consume without gaining weight.  They then treat this number as though it were fixed by some innate facet of the patient’s metabolism.  Pennington explained that this wasn’t the case.  As long as obese individuals have this metabolic defect and their cells are not receiving the full benefit of the calories they consume, their tissues will always be conserving energy and so expending less than they otherwise might.  The cells will be semi-starved even if the person does not appear to be.  Indeed, if these individuals are restraining their desire to curb, if possible, still further weight gain, the inhibition of energy expenditure will be exacerbated.

Pennington suggested that as the adipose tissue accumulates fat, its expansion will increase the rate at which fat calories are released back into the bloodstream … and this could eventually compensate for the defect itself.  We will continue to accumulate fat – and so continue to be in positive energy balance – until we reach a new equilibrium and the flow of fat calories out of the adipose tissue once again matches the flow of calories in.

Until and unless obese people fix the hormonal imbalance that drives fat accumulation, they will continue the “over-eating” that’s required to stay in a state of energy balance.   Eating less at one meal simply leads to eating more at another, and vice versa.   That is, in fact, what the research shows:  when people consume a high-calorie meal at a restaurant, they eat smaller meals afterwards.  Over the course of a week, they end up consuming a remarkably consistent number of calories, whether they eat any big restaurant meals or not.   So perhaps we shame them into ordering a smaller meal at McDonald’s with those in-your-face calorie counts … the end result will be a bigger meal or a snack later.

But that’s assuming the calorie-count menus will prompt people to order smaller meals in the first place.  The evidence so far certainly doesn’t support that idea.  New York City started requiring calorie-count menus in 2008.  A study conducted a year later concluded those menus weren’t affecting what people ordered, as recounted in a New York Times article.

A study of New York City’s pioneering law on posting calories in restaurant chains suggests that when it comes to deciding what to order, people’s stomachs are more powerful than their brains. The study, by several professors at New York University and Yale, tracked customers at four fast-food chains — McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken — in poor neighborhoods of New York City where there are high rates of obesity.

It found that about half the customers noticed the calorie counts, which were prominently posted on menu boards. About 28 percent of those who noticed them said the information had influenced their ordering, and 9 out of 10 of those said they had made healthier choices as a result.

But when the researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect, in July 2008.

The Guy From CSPI reacted to that study with this bit of interesting logic:

Nutrition and public health experts said the findings showed how hard it was to change behavior, but they said it was not a reason to abandon calorie posting. One advocate of calorie posting suggested that low-income people were more interested in price than calories.

“Nutrition is not the top concern of low-income people, who are probably the least amenable to calorie labeling,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group in Washington.

Did you follow The Guy From CSPI’s reasoning there?  Obesity is largely concentrated among the poor, nutrition isn’t a top concern of the poor, and the poor are the least amenable to calorie labeling – but failure to actually make a difference is no reason to abandon an onerous law that was justified on the grounds that it would actually make a difference.

In a post a couple of years ago, I quoted from a study titled Restaurants, Regulation and the Super-sizing of America. When the researchers who conducted that study compared what obese people eat in restaurants versus what they eat at home, they found (surprise!) little difference:

When eating at home, obese individuals consume almost 30 percent of their calories in the form of “junk food” (ice cream, processed cheese, bacon, baked sweets, crackers, potato chips and fries, candies, soft drinks, and beer). Because obese individuals consume so many calories from nutritionally deficient sources at home, it may not be surprising that replacing restaurant consumption with home consumption does not improve health, as measured by BMI.

The people consuming ice cream, processed cheese, bacon, baked sweets, crackers, potato chips and fries, candies, soft drinks, and beer at home (let’s pretend bacon isn’t in the list) are eating foods that come in packages with calorie counts on them.  The calorie counts are there because the FDA started mandating them on all packaged foods in the mid-1990s.  As I recounted in Fat Head, our nanny-state-loving media greeted the FDA’s mandate with happy-talk articles speculating that consumers would start making smarter food choices thanks to the new labels.

Boy, that sure worked out well, didn’t it?  Look how much thinner we’ve become since the 1990s.


46 thoughts on “McDonald’s Posts Calories On Menus — The Obesity Epidemic Is Over!

  1. Connie

    This reminds me of when I waited at a health spa & resort. the place was all inclusive so on our menus instead of prices we had calorie counts. I swear you could not get a nut in this place without knowing how many calories it had.
    Still, more often than not we got complaints from guests that they had gained weight while staying there. Maybe if the calorie counts were bigger or in neon print people would start losing weight.

    I guess what’s needed is for waiters to scream at them, “Do you have an idea how many calories are in that meal?!”

  2. Bret

    And as you mentioned in a previous post, Tom, whenever restaurants end up caving in to pressure to do stuff like this, all it really does is impose extra costs on them and translate to higher prices for consumers. I’m pretty sure the nanny do-gooders are aware of this and are scheming to impose enough extra costs and restrictions on the fast food companies to eventually drive them out of business.

    I happen to love McDonald’s. A helpless moron like me will have no choice but to eat healthy when there are no more fast food restaurants to offer me junk food, right?

    That seems to be their theory.

  3. Scott

    Maybe they could get someone like the soup Nazi from Seinfeld to warn them about the calories in their food when they order. Custome- Yeah I would like a Double quarter pounder w/chee.., SN- do you know how many calories is in that customer Um no I don’t care either SN- NO DBL QUARTER POUNDER for you, here grilled chicken wrap has less calories. Customer- I don’t want the grille….. SN- I look out for your health and you get mouthy that’s it GET OUR NO FOOD FOR YOU.

    Well, we already had some legislators propose not allowing obese people to eat in restaurants, so you’re not far off.

  4. Scott

    I’m glad the obesity epidemic is almost over, now if we can just figure out how to get people to stop smoking maybe a warning on the box or something.

    Yeah, we need to try that next.

    It cracked me up that Morgan Spurlock wants nutrition information posted everywhere so people will eat less. In Super Size Me, he mentioned that he used to smoke. That means he took up smoking in spite of the warning labels.

  5. Steve Picray

    I stopped at Mac’s Steakhouse tonight on the way home. I wasn’t very hungry, so I just got a “happy meal.” I’m not calling it that anymore. Now I’m calling them “disgruntled meals” because they reduced the size of the fries from 2.4 oz to 1.1 oz and added a baggie of apples (probably loaded with preservatives). The new french fry container looks like a toy, which is good, because the toy they included was anything but. It was a “Luggage clip” with a picture of a monkey on the tag. What is going on in this world??

    What’s going on is that restaurants are tired of being blamed for the rise in obesity and are giving in.

  6. Ken Row

    The calories counts on the McD’s menu had the opposite effect on me.

    As I looked over the sandwich choices, I started calculating which ones were the best deals, which ones had the MOST calories per dollar.

    “Let’s see, I can pay $4.39 and get 650 calories, or I can pay $3.99 and get 770 calories….”

    Also, even though the FDA’s insistence on calorie counts on food labels didn’t reduce America’s waistlines, I do receive one benefit from it: Carb/Sugar counts!

    For us, yes. But my guess is that most people ignore those too.

  7. Steve

    I notice Jack In The Box started posting calories on the menu within the last year or so. CSPI Guy has got me nailed: I’m cheap, so I try to order the food with the highest calories per dollar to ensure I’m getting the best value. The wrapper for the Meaty Burrito not only makes a nice plate, it also is a decent frisbee once you eat the real food off of it.

    The law of unintended consequences. I don’t suppose the wrapper-frisbee would be suitable for frisbee golf?

  8. Judy

    “When eating at home, obese individuals consume almost 30 percent of their calories in the form of “junk food” (ice cream, processed cheese, bacon, baked sweets, crackers, potato chips and fries, candies, soft drinks, and beer).”

    Bacon should never be considered “junk food.” Why do they do that? Bacon is essential to happiness. 🙂 And so, I must add a link for the bacon flow chart. Apologies if it’s previously been posted. But it’s bacon!

    That was a new one on me. Very good.

  9. johnmc

    This is the best solution ever. Since California started requiring restaurants to start doing this, there are no more obese people in the state.

    Oh no, wait a minute, I meant the other thing. It did absolutely nothing.

    Sure it did … it made politicians feel good about themselves.

  10. Greta

    In my previous life, the only thing that would change my order at a fast food place would be if I was at the drive-thru or inside. And if they didn’t have a drive-thru, I didn’t go there. Calories did not enter the picture.

    And they don’t for most people, either.

  11. Dr J.

    Does anyone know that 1/2 of the calories in a cheeseburger from McD is the BUN? 150 calories is from the BUN?

    That’s why I order two or three cheeseburgers and skip the bun.

  12. Megan

    MD in the UK has been doing this for some time. I ate at one of these restaurants for the first time in years at the Olympic park a couple of weeks ago (it was the cheapest option). We were baffled by what the numbers meant.

    My son asked if a Big Mac cost £4.80 (it had 480 calories i think). I assumed the numbers related to their ordering system.

    Anyway, judging from the huge queues, most people were too concerned about the calorie counts and chose to eat there because it was the cheapest way to feed a family in an otherwise expensive Olympic venue.

    The calorie count didn’t tell me how many carbs I consumed after I had removed the buns from my two hamburgers and that is the only information I cared about.

    I suspect that MDs have worked out that putting this information on the boards in the UK has made no difference to sales and they are happy to do it in the US – knowing that people really don’t care. makes them look good though – like having salads and apples on the menu that no one eats.

    This whole calorie-count nonsense will end up being yet another failed attempt to reduce obesity. Then the government goofballs will interpret the failure to mean they’re not trying hard enough and need to interfere even more.

  13. Bradlee C.

    When we were in a CA McD’s a few months ago I really did have to stand out of line for a few minutes and gather what I was seeing. It was like looking at giant Excel spreadsheet. I have this image in my mind of the 16-yr-old kid up on a ladder posting these numbers while his manager stands below with his 7 inch thick book of calorie posting procedures and regulations.

    That sounds about right.

  14. Per Wikhom

    Interesting post Tom but I do not agree with your libertarian analysis in it. I would say it is more of a smart, commercial PR-trick from McDonalds side. Here in Sweden, (a country that most libertarians/republicans would label as the nanniest of nanny states and their worst nightmare) there are no regulations forcing resturants to specify caloric content of their meals.

    Still McDonalds in Sweden has for years provided information on calories, macronutrients and allargens on the backside of the paper you get on the tray. They have recruted Swedens most famous obesity expert Claude Marcus as a scientific advisor helping them to formulate “healthy” menus. Thus they create an image of a company that is transparent and offers healthy alternatives but at the same time knows for sure that the majority will still order the (more profitable) fries instead of healthy, raw, mini carrots to their meal.

    Tom, it is all about smart capitalism, not about nanny state interventions.

    That’s actually the reason I don’t believe nanny-state laws like this are necessary. If enough people want calorie-counts available in restaurants, the restaurants will provide them to please their customers. If people don’t care about the calorie counts (the more likely scenario), forcing restaurants to post them on menu boards is a waste of time and money. Of course, our government has no qualms about wasting someone else’s money.

  15. Steve

    Tom inspired by your idea I took my Meaty Burrito wrapper to the frisbee golf course. You are in trouble now. Meet my exclusive “fast food” golf bag: one of those yellow McDonald’s flying rings for the tees and my Jack’s flour frisbee for what just became a “deadly” short game. I like to call it call it “heart attack on a tortilla plate”. Game on, Naughton.

    Okay, I accept the challenge, but not until my replacement Roadrunner driver arrives. On the second hole of my first round of disc golf since the knee surgery, I threw my driver deep into a jungle of thorny bushes. No way I’m going in there looking for it.

  16. Bernardo

    Posting the calories may have a negative effect since it might encourage restaurants to try to make their foods less caloric so they look good in the menu. That could result in they reducing the fat content in order to do so, substituting it for corn-based stuff with less calories/pound (as has been happening with most products in supermarkets)…

    That’s what happened with milk in school. They banned full-fat milk, replaced it with sugary skim milk that is indeed somewhat lower in calories, but the likely effect is that kids are hungrier after the sugar-buzz wears off and eat more.

  17. Bruce

    I have been counting calories and am finally losing weight! I found out that even with trying to follow a low carb diet I was still waaaayyy overeating. One thing you do figure out quick, is you do NOT want to waste you count on cruddy food. Most of what fast food place offer would fall (for me) into the cruddy category. I support companies putting this on their menus, but do not want them forced by anybody to do so.

    Also, a lawsuit against one of these calorie counting companies because the food received by a consumer was over/under the calorie count posted to be filed in 3..2..1

    If reducing carbohydrates doesn’t control your appetite naturally, then yes, you need to look into portion control. On my current almost-paleo lchf diet, I eat until I’m full and satisfied but almost surely eat less than in my high-carb days.

  18. carole

    Dr. J., I like the Dollar Menu’s McDoubles. They put the cheese between two thin patties, so the cheese isn’t lost to the bun before discarding it. Two McDoubles and a coffee with half and half: a delicious meal for under $3.

  19. b-nasty

    Funny thing is, as you even showed in FH, that many of the basic menu items at McD’s really aren’t that high in calories. Barring a bladder-buster soda (which NYC has recently banned), a meal can come out to a very reasonable 500-700 calories.

    What seems supremely unfair is that I don’t see the same microscope being turned over to the ‘upscale’ fast food restaurants, a.k.a. TGIFridays, Outback, Olive Garden, etc. I remember Ruby Tuesday’s used to have (voluntarily) the nutrition info in their menus. What a shocker that is. Most of the meals were near 1000 calories, and some of the pasta dishes were closer to 2000. In fact, looking at their current list, a ‘Spinach and Mushroom Omelet’ without any sides is 1150 calories! How is that possible? My breakfast of 4 eggs cooked in 1tbl coconut oil + 1/3 cup shredded cheese is half that.

    Meals in table-service restaurants are significantly higher in calories. I mentioned that in Fat Head too. The food evangelists prefer to pick on fast-food restaurants because the food is cheap and people eat fast-food more often.

  20. marilynb

    You make good points about posting calorie counts with respect to obese people. But might it not keep some not yet obese people from becoming obese as they get older? Younger people who haven’t had to deal with obesity yet might not really be aware how many calories they’re consuming. This could be a wake up call before it’s too late for them.

    That’s assuming that if people are confronted with calorie information, they eat less. But they don’t. We eat to meet our fuel needs.

  21. Pierce

    I truly don’t understand the low calorie fixation at restaurants and in the media. For example, Applebee’s heavily marketed its 550 calorie or less meal options to men. Even assuming the calorie theory of obesity is true and that men only “require” 2000 calories a day, three square 550 calorie meals a day would not get anywhere near that requirement.

    It’s like these advertisers/authorities/whoever are building their plans around the assumption that everyone is taking in significant calories from snacks and sugary beverages and that the way to address that is to cut meal calories, not the snacks and sugar.

    It’s all very strange. I heard a story on the radio recently discussing all these changes and it led with a fact about lowering sodium in fast food meals. No explanation of what relevance, if any, sodium has to obesity, just the assumption that sodium = unhealthy. The ignorance and level of complacent assumptions are astounding.

    That is exactly what the policy-makers have done, just assume their theories are correct without much thought about evidence.

  22. Maria in NJ

    MeMe Roth an expert on nutrition….paleeezze, gosh tome I hope you were stating that with tongue in cheek…

    Of course. Skinny MeMe doesn’t know diddly about weight loss.

  23. Marilyn

    I think I read something a while back that Olive Garden was nailed for some item that allegedly had more calories than posted. If so, they’re not immune from this idiocy, either.

    Unless the cooks are measuring everything precisely, some meals are bound to go over the posted calorie count. That will be the next big story.

  24. johnny

    Since according to the “experts” our bodies are nothing more than live calorimeters, I see a day when everyone will be required – for their own good of course – to receive and use rationing cards based on calories.

    Don’t give them any ideas.

  25. Marilyn

    Even if one assumes that the general public knows how all this stuff works, it’s a colossal waste of time and money. But most people have more to do with their lives than study up on nutrition, and probably DON’T know how this stuff works. So all the nutrition facts in the world are useless. I recently had a conversation with a long time good friend. She’s a bright woman without a weight problem. She told me about a new gluten-free store in town. In the course of our conversation, I had to explain to her that there’s no gluten in butter; it’s just in grains, and only some specific grains. Can you imagine how useful all these facts and figures at McDonald’s will be to the average teenager — overweight or otherwise?

    The facts and figures won’t make a bit of difference. Most fat people have tried and failed to lose weight because they’re going on bad advice. Telling them how many calories are in a Big Mac won’t fix the bad advice.

  26. Fat Guy Weight Loss

    Here in WA we have seen calories on the menus for at least a year now. Sorry to tell you Tom, we still have obese people here 🙂 Being a reader of your site obviously this number has little value to me…if only they posted numbers without buns then I can more easily make my decision since I do count calories but not to avoid getting too many, but to ensure I am actually getting enough.

    McDonald’s used to have an online menu where you could remove items and it would recalculate. I don’t know if it’s there anymore.

  27. Jennifer Snow

    I’m another one of those people who look at calorie counts and think, mm, how can I maximize my calories:money ratio?

    I eat to stop being hungry. The great thing about my low carb/high fat diet is that it lets me not be hungry AND be much healthier than I ever was before, so not only do I get the Not Hungry Happiness, I also get the Not Feeling Like Crap Happiness. Also Looser Pants Happiness. 3X as much happiness for the same amount of work. Maybe more.

    I’ve pretty much stopped eating at fast food restaurants because a.) it’s not much faster than running to the store, grabbing a packet of meat, and cooking it, and it certainly isn’t CHEAPER; b.) when I cook the meat, it’s not (usually) unseasoned and all dried out; c.) I don’t have to deal with baffled salespeople who can’t figure out a good plan for making a burger without a bun; and d.) I don’t have to worry about Mystery Wheat hidden in my food.

  28. Lori

    As I posted on my blog awhile back, if I had a child, I’d rather he eat McDonald’s than a school lunch. A quarter-pound cheeseburger with small fries and a diet drink has more fat, a lot less carb and around 100 fewer calories(!) than a school lunch.

    Between this and Kaiser’s ad campaign to get kids moving, the war on obesity is all but won.

    Yeah, it’ll all be over soon. Declare victory and go home.

  29. newyorker

    what! no post on the launching of the nutritional science initiative? it certainly seems a step in the right direction. about time, too.

    i just had a brainstorm for your next project: a low-carb version of ‘the biggest loser’ where jillian is told to stick it in lieu of tormenting the contestants. of course an isolated but luxurious ranch will still be the setting but the subjects would only be urged to exercise to keep from getting easily winded, but not so much as to increase appetite. 3-4 months later… proof that low-carb works!

    gotta disagree about the labeling requirement. to be sure, most people don’t care, but it does help those who do. i think of it as similar to the labelings on processed food which are of great assistance in avoiding sugar and excess carbs in our food.

    if anything, the fast food requirement doesn’t go far enough being limited to calories. in this state, fast food establishments have been posting the fat content, carb content etc. a la processed food in grocery stores. i was shocked to tell the truth that there are some places that don’t do so.

    as for cost, since it’s already done in several states, it should be a drop in the bucket nationalizing it.

    The people who are motivated to read labels are the same people who look up information if it’s not available. The people who get fat on sugar and starch either don’t care or believe a high-carb diet is good for them. We didn’t have labels on anything when I was a kid, but there were fewer fat people.

  30. Mrs. O

    Didn’t you know? Since the fast food places in NYC began posting the calories on the menu a few years ago, everyone stopped eating the high caloric foods and only eat the salads. The obesity epidemic in NYC is no more! Oh, wait. That’s what the new soda ban is gonna do. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

    Yup, the mayor will have New Yorkers fit as fiddles in no time.

  31. AndreaLynnette

    Did anyone else read Atlas Shrugged? When I was reading the “government forced them to volunteer” part, I thought of that Directive 10-something, the one that required businesses to voluntarily turn their patents over to the government.

    Who is John Galt?

  32. Rae

    It’s scary to see how things have escalated over the years when previous plans have failed. I’m afraid that after this menu debacle fails, that the Mimi Roth’s and Guy from CSPI’s will try to directly control what the consumer is allowed to purchase. Especially with this country’s current administration wanting to put their fingers in everyone else’s pies.

    The statists learned long ago that the way to take away freedom is one little bit at a time.

  33. D. Casey

    Thanks for posting this Tom! I am sick of the government telling us what to eat. Regulating drink and food sizes by banning them or forcing companies to spend money to update their menus is nothing sort of big government telling us “stupid” people what to do. When we go to a fast food restaurant, we know what we are doing and what we are eating. Calorie counts on a menu is not going to change how we order. We don’t go to a fast food restaurant to order carrots and a spinach and apple smoothie. We don’t need the Guy from CSPI or the government to tell us how to feed ourselves or our children. They have already mucked up the food pyramid and funded false “scientific” studies, I don’t need them screwing up my life and raising prices in hopes to deter me from eating a large fry or hamburger.

    Well said.

  34. J

    You’re right Tom, what the consumer needs is less information. If its a minimal hardship for business to tell us about the food we eat, while we eat it, its too much! Geez printing nutritional information on a disposable place mat. The Horror!

    Enjoy your paved roads, potable water, and inspected meats and restaurants.

    Down with Government!

    1) If people want nutrition information, they can demand it from the restaurants and refuse to support the ones that don’t provide it. We’ve had nutrition information out the wazoo in recent years. Boy, that sure fixed the obesity and diabetes problems, didn’t it?

    2) I don’t care if the total cost of switching to a calorie-count menu board is minimal. You and I don’t have the right (or shouldn’t) to impose costs on other people and force them to give us what we want. We have devolved into a society full of whiny-ass adult children who believe that anything they want, they automatically have a right to it. If you want calorie counts in a restaurant, tell the manager. If he or she refuses, tough. You may not like it, but that doesn’t entitle you to force the restaurant to give you your precious calorie-counts under threat of violence.

    3) I’m always amused by people who justify big-government nanny-statism by citing the wonders of roads and municipal water systems. The choice here isn’t between a large, onerous government and no government at all. The choice is between a large, onerous government that has massively overstepped its supposed Constitutional constraints (and will soon bankrupt the country as a result) and a government that sticks to its legitimate functions.

  35. Marilyn

    Tom wrote: “We didn’t have labels on anything when I was a kid, but there were fewer fat people.” Exactly. Last week, I turned up an old high school annual, and was looking at the group pictures taken when we were sophomores. There was ONE student out of a couple of hundred who was noticeably round. The rest were unremarkable one way or another.

    I’m going to my 35th reunion next week. That’ll be interesting.

  36. TonyNZ

    When I go to McDonalds, my purchase criteria goes something along the lines of “how can I get the most protein and fat calories for the least cost?”

    This would help with that I guess…

    I can already answer that for you: McDoubles with cheese, throw away the bun.

  37. Galina L.

    One of my favorite restaurant chains (Carrabas the Italian grill) is already destroyed by low-sodium propaganda. Can you imagine, they just don’t salt their food any longer because there is a salt on the table. I wonder, what calories counting would do to menus (no New-Your stakes, only 3oz of Tenderloin in a menu ?). Luckily, we eat mostly at home, but the loss of a good location is always a loss.

    The response to laws mandating less salt will be people reaching for the salt shaker.

  38. AndreaLynnette

    J is probably not going to read this, but I have to say it

    Do you really think that if there was no government, there would be no roads, no clean water, dirty restaurants and tainted meat? Do you honestly believe that none of these things existed before a government? Or do you just believe that the government is a more efficient, well-run machine to deliver such services?

    The first government to build a massive road network was Ancient Rome, and they did so to ensure that they could send their armies to and receive taxes from their vast realm of conquered barbarians.

    It amazes me that some people believe the services that EVERYONE NEEDS wouldn’t be provided without government. Are you kidding me? You’ve got guaranteed lifelong customers, but no private enterprises would jump in to serve this guaranteed customer base? We live out in the sticks, but we have water, electricity and cable — all provided by private businesses.

  39. Alex

    When all of this fails, the government will step back in and demand a ban on high-calorie items. When that fails, they will go after the supermarkets. Where will it ever end?

    OTOH – I oppose agricultural subsidies to corn, wheat, soybean. We need greater crop diversity to ensure health.

    I don’t think it will end with them announcing they got it all wrong, unfortunately.

  40. Tara Sherlock

    Hi Tom,
    We went to McDonalds this Sunday for a quick lunch before going out grocery shopping. This has already been implemented in our resturants here in Michigan. It sure didn’t stop me from ordering 1 of my favorite rewards #1 Big Mac.

    I doubt more than a tiny fraction of McDonald’s customers will make different choices because the new menus.

  41. Tori

    Tom wrote- “We have devolved into a society full of whiny-ass adult children who believe that anything they want, they automatically have a right to it. If you want calorie counts in a restaurant, tell the manager. If he or she refuses, tough. You may not like it, but that doesn’t entitle you to force the restaurant to give you your precious calorie-counts under threat of violence.”


    What lawmakers fail to understand is that, no matter how many laws and regulations they make, they can’t legislate away people’s attitudes and feelings.

    We humans, for better or worse, all lean toward being a bit selfish. This kind of regulating will only make some of us want to “buck the system” and eat more calories just for spite. “No supersized drinks! I’ll buy 2!!!”

    This type of intervention never works.

    Amen back at ya.

  42. Gladys

    Thank you for the great posts. Our Boston Market has notes on the table because there is pepper but no salt shaker. If you want salt you have to go get a shaker. And yes, most of the occupied tables were using salt, which when folks left, the staff dutifully put away. I just don’t get it. We all got here just fine without all this oversight.

    Nothing like watching rampant nuttiness all around us.

  43. Peggy Cihocki

    Actually, @B-nasty, the Olive Garden in my town does include calorie counts on the menu. It doesn’t make any difference to me–I don’t count calories, but just saying…Don’t know about the other restaurants on the list, though. As to McDonald’s, I don’t go there. We have In-And-Out Burger in town and they have a “Protein Style” option–they lettuce wrap the burger; no bun–so I go there instead when I want a FF burger. It does make me laugh, sometimes, though. After I order my protein style double double, they always ask if I want fries and a drink with that. Yes, I could want a diet soda (I don’t) but fries? I’m so tempted sometimes to say “Now why would I want to add carbs to a meal where I have deliberately eliminated them?” But I don’t. I know they are just doing their job. 🙂 I just smile and say “No thank you.”
    I’m all for people who sell food providing information–preferably information that is actually useful, like ingredients–but I agree that forcing restaurants to post calorie counts (when anyone who is interested can find all the information they want on line) is a useless waste of money and time.

    Hear, hear.

    Inn N Out was one of the few things I missed about California. But we’ve since discovered Five Guys burgers in Tennessee. Just as good, and they also wrap the “protein sytle” cheeseburgers in lettuce.

  44. TBM

    If Vegetable oil is to an extent rancid to begin with due to it’s factory processing, than how rancid would it be after Mcdonalds stick it in a vat, and keep it heated for the entire day, leave it overnight, and then repeat the procedure for some twelve days? They filter it before then, but that’s only to remove the high levels of carbon that builds up. One would think that if you were ever going to use a more heat stable fat, it’d be in that situation.

    I was going to buy salad dressing, until I read the ingredients and saw “Rapeseed Oil” on the back of every one of them. Last I read, Rapeseed Oil was heart-toxic. Goes to show how far a little independent self education can go.


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