Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Judge Upholds NYC Calorie Counter Law

A federal judge upheld a New York City regulation Wednesday requiring calories to be posted on the menu boards of some chain restaurants, saying the rule was a reasonable approach to health officials' goal of reducing obesity.

In doing so, the judge turned back a challenge from the New York State Restaurant Association, a voice for the food service industry.

``It seems reasonable to expect that some consumers will use the information disclosed ... to select lower calorie meals ... and these choices will lead to a lower incidence of obesity,'' U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell said.

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene believes the regulation will prevent 130,000 New Yorkers from becoming obese and will stop another 30,000 from developing diabetes over the next five years.

``We just want people to have the information available to them to make healthful decisions,'' said health department spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti.

The new law, which takes effect next Monday, applies to restaurants with more than 15 outlets across the country. That includes fast-food places like McDonald's and such sit-down chains as Olive Garden and T.G.I. Friday's.

The city Board of Health voted unanimously in February to approve the regulation, a new version of a rule that had been struck down by a judge last year after a challenge from the restaurant association.
Once again, judges and politicians/bureaucrats don't get it. Obesity and food consumption are personal choices. People choose to eat where they want, how much they want, and this decision is yet another nanny-state win for those who think that governments know better than individuals as to what's best for them.

What exactly is going to stop people from becoming obese because some restaurateur will be forced to expend money to provide a calorie content at chain restaurants? People have been told for years now that fast food joints aren't healthy for you, and yet millions of people visit them on a daily basis. Letting someone know that a Big Mac is going to hit you for a X calories isn't going to resonate with folks who don't bother to count the calories on the packaged food they bring home. You really think people choose what they eat by calorie intake?

They're going to eat what is most convenient and cost effective for them. The regulations may increase costs significantly for some local chains, meaning that their patrons will face higher costs or those businesses will cease to exist.

You want to get people to work on losing weight, those people themselves have to take on themselves to lose weight - by choosing healthier alternatives including smaller portions and better food choices. Imposing still more onerous regulations on restaurants isn't going to get it done. It is a feel good measure by nanny-staters like Mayor Bloomberg who doesn't have to worry about paying for the increased costs of running the tests to determine calorie counts. In the end, it will do nothing to fight obesity and will further cement the City's inhospitality to business.

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