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The Sacramento Bee reports that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that will compel chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets in the state to post the calorie counts on their menu boards. The goal of the legislation is to focus attention on the burgeoning obesity rates in California and elsewhere.

According to the story, the new rules will be phased in between now and 2011 and will affect approximately 17,000 locations. California is the first state to adopt such sweeping guidelines.

“Beginning next July, chain restaurants with 20 or more California outlets must offer brochures disclosing calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium …. Disclosure requirements will change in January 2011, allowing chain restaurants to provide only calorie content - but on menus or menu boards, where customers are most likely to see it.”

The Bee writes, “Schwarzenegger's signing of the menu-labeling bill came two months after he approved legislation to ban restaurants from using trans fats by January 2010. The governor, a former Mr. Universe, also has cracked down in recent years on sales of soda pop, candy and other junk food in schools. Obesity is a significant health issue nationwide, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.”

KC's View:
Tell you a story. While at the Mets game last Saturday, we went to one of the concession stands to get something to eat, and were taken aback by the calorie count postings next to every item. A hot dog has how many calories? (Doesn’t matter…we’re at a baseball game.) How many calories are in a pretzel? (Too many.) Is drinking a premium beer worth the additional calories? (Always.)

The point is this. While some will argue that the legislation is unnecessary, they work because they allow consumers to make intelligent, informed choices. And I think that’s the bottom line.