business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports on research done by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggesting that people actually are changing their eating habits based on the calorie counts being posted at the city’s fast food restaurants.

According to the story, “The study found that the decreases were statistically significant at four of the chains: McDonald’s, KFC, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks. People purchased more at four other chains, but the study's authors said there was only one chain -- Subway -- where the increase was statistically significant.

“A similar California law will make chain restaurants post calorie information on menus starting in 2011. Some restaurant chains in California are already printing the information on their menus.

“An earlier study by New York University researchers that looked at consumers in low-income and minority neighborhoods found that calorie information on menus may increase awareness of calorie content but had less of an effect on the number of calories people purchase. They New York City study authors said they believed their result was different because their sample size was much larger and more representative of the city's entire population.”
KC's View:
If you provide complete information to consumers, allowing them to make their own decisions, you probably don’t need bans and fees and taxes. At some level, you have to let people make their own decisions whenever possible...and being completely transparent about what is in our foods (which means actually knowing what is in our foods) is a lot better than taxing soda or fat or other stuff.