May 25, 2010

Feed Me

Kitchen Nannies: "Whaddaya mean, you still want the Hungry Hoss Special?"

(Reuters) - Laws requiring U.S. restaurant chains to list calorie counts have not stopped them from offering unhealthy meals that pack in calories, fat and salt, a group that encourages healthy food said on Tuesday.

A pancake breakfast providing 1,380 calories, a single-serve pizza that packs two days' worth of sodium and a pasta dish swimming in four day's worth of fat top a list published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

The group, which "outs" the calorie, fat and sodium counts of America's favorite foods every year, said it looked for evidence that restaurants are trimming back their offerings in the face of new laws and political pressure.

They found little.

"One might think that chains like Outback Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory might want to lighten up their meals now that calories will be required on their menus, courtesy of the health care reform law signed in March," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit CSPI said.

"But these chains don't promote moderation. They practice caloric extremism, and they're helping make modern-day Americans become the most obese people ever to walk the Earth," he said in a statement.

One might think that busybodies such as Michael Jacobson should go spit up a rope, too. I've got no problem with full caloric disclosure on restaurant menus any more than I do with such disclosure on cereal boxes. But this should just be a matter of information, not manipulation. And once that information is out there, the market can take care of itself. If enough people decide Outback's menu is too heavy for them, it'll change it. Ditto the Cheesecake Factory. In fact, although I haven't visited either chain in some years now, I'm reasonably certain that even before the new legislation went into effect, they didn't pin one down as one walked through the door, force a giant hose into one's mouth and start pumping gravy and whipped cream down one's gullet.

Of course, Mr. Jacobson and his ilk start from the premise that the general public are a lot of unwashed, knuckle-dragging morons who need constant supervision in order to be saved from themselves.

Posted by Robert at May 25, 2010 03:09 PM | TrackBack

Now you've made me hungry...

Posted by: ChrisN at May 25, 2010 06:49 PM

Yeah, whenever I think of "light, healthy food" I think of The Cheesecake Factory.

Posted by: rbj at May 26, 2010 07:44 AM
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