The New New Year’s Diet

Counting your calories doesn't do much in the long term

The Lempert Report

Welcome back to The Lempert Report, all of us hope you and your families and friends had a great holiday season and a happy new year.

And talking about the new year, the No. 1 resolution for so many of us is to get in shape and lose weight. But that’s hard to do. And a new study says that soon after calories were posted on fast-food menus, people cut back a little bit on what they ordered. But it didn't last.

The Associated Press reports that customers at fast-food chains in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas ordered an average of 60 fewer calories per transaction in the weeks after the figures were displayed, according to a study published in the medical journal BMJ. That amounted to a 4% drop, and declines came largely from extras such as fries and desserts. After about a year, the drop was down to just 23 calories.

Study co-author Joshua Petimar of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said, "The strongest impact might be felt in the short term, whereas the long-term effects are still a little bit up in the air."  

Seriously? While I am all in favor of transparency and giving consumers all the information possible about the foods they are considering, what this study, along with those that looked at the New York City and California regulations that also mandated calorie counts, is that merely listing calories has a negligible effect.

One could argue that while the effort might not have reduced caloric consumption, it prevented higher caloric consumption. We look for simple solutions to difficult problems.


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