Your Health

Restaurant Calorie Counts Will Be On The Menu

By next year, chain restaurants across the country will have to post calorie information on their menus. You can't say we didn't warn you.

McDonald's tray with calorie count menu. i

Finding the calories before you dine out will get easier soon. Justin Sullivan/Getty) hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty)
McDonald's tray with calorie count menu.

Finding the calories before you dine out will get easier soon.

Justin Sullivan/Getty)

The change is being ordered up by a provision tucked into the new health bill signed into law by President Obama yesterday.

Some jurisdictions, like New York City, already required restaurants to post calorie and nutrition data on menus, but now it'll go national. Though, the jury is out on whether the information does much to change eating habits.

The new law will affect all chain restaurants with more than 200 locations, so be ready to face the hard facts when you walk into your favorite fast-food eatery come 2011.

And the National Restaurant Association is pleased to hear it. Spokeswoman Sue Hensley (no relation to the editor of Shots) told us the group's members have been working towards a national standard for nutritional information posting requirements for a while.

"We feel strongly that consumers are going to benefit from seeing the same type of information they're familiar with on packaged foods on restaurant menus across the country," she said. And, there's been strong support by members for a universal, federal standard when it comes to such regulations.

The information made available will go beyond calorie counts. Fat and carbs, too, sort of like what's on food packages at the market.

The law also requires nutrition labels on food items in vending machines. And this has been a more contentious issue. As Joanne Silberner reported last December, labeling all vending machines with calorie counts would be a pretty big task, and it will cost the vending machines folks a pretty penny.

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