Cost and convenience

Calorie-count signage doesn’t do either

June 28, 2013

Posted calorie counts in restaurants are controversial, and not just because they smack of nanny-stateism. As we’ve noted before, warning customers that their milkshake contains half a day’s recommended caloric intake may not make any difference in their ordering habits.

Now Frank Bruni has weighed in on the matter, with an op-ed coming to the same conclusion and calling for changes in terms of cost and convenience instead. He cites the recent history of cigarette smoking by way of analogy:

The principal reasons for the remarkable decrease in smoking in New York City and elsewhere over the last few decades weren’t ominous commercials and warning labels. They were taxes and the bans on indoor smoking. People kicked the habit when it became onerous, in cost and convenience, not to.

So how do you make Frappucinos onerous in cost and convenience? Bruni doesn’t say. And in certain situations, reports suggest, posting calorie counts can actually lead customers to spend more moola, not less. Why’s that? Because the healthier items are more expensive — and suddenly they look more attractive.

There are 3 comments on this item
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1. by Brian Grantham on Jul 2, 2013 at 10:20 AM PDT

The healthier option is better for your health but bad for the wallet :-)

2. by Caroline Cummins on Jul 5, 2013 at 9:53 AM PDT

Meanwhile, new studies show that calorie signage doesn’t reduce caloric intake in diners — and that the mere presence of, say, a healthy salad on a restaurant menu actually encourages diners to order unhealthy items from elsewhere on the menu.

3. by anonymous on Jul 7, 2013 at 1:46 AM PDT

It might not make the vast majority of folks change their dining habits - but for those who do care about how much they are consuming and make the effort to eat wiser, having the nutritional information available makes a world of difference.

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