After my interview with health counselor and nutritional expert, Peter Lappin a few nights ago, I began to look more closely at food labels on grocery products as well as in convenience and fast food stores. I wondered if people eating in fast food restaurants will actually make healthier choices now that they know exactly how many calories are in everything they eat. My opinion is no, that their habits won’t change. The only benefit that will come from this is that the fast food industry (as well as the general food industry) will use this as a disclaimer, similar to all the other legal disclaimers that you see everywhere (like the Surgeon General’s warning about smoking). The next time someone takes legal action against one of the fast food chains, they can argue that the customer was given full disclosure about the ingredients and the number of calories. In a perverse way, these labels and disclaimers may end up somewhat legitimizing people’s poor eating or smoking habits.
What this goes to show is that anytime the government takes action with genuinely good intentions, there always seems to be negative consequences. Helping people with bad eating habits to count more calories won’t make a dent in our obesity epidemic. What needs to be stressed is a holistic model, where the person’s nutritional, exercise, emotional, spiritual, socioeconomic, and family support factors are all accounted for and properly addressed. I’m highly skeptical of anything that touts one thing only, whether it’s counting calories, restricting one food group, eating lots of one mineral, etc.
What’s your take on this? Do you think these labels in fast food restaurants will change peoples’ eating habits?