subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

The New Health Care Law Champions Good Nutrition


By Mary_RD on Apr 13, 2010 11:00 AM in Tips & Updates
Edited By +Rachel Berman

With the vote to overhaul the nation’s health care system came a few provisions to protect your nutritional health.  Before this, it was not easy to acquire the nutritional acumen to help you help yourself.  But now, nutrition information will be more accessible.  It's been a long time coming.

Restaurateurs, fess up!

Many - even most - restaurant foods have an enormous number of calories.  “Coffee drinks can range from 20 to 800 calories, and burgers can range from 250 calories to well over 1,000," obesity expert Dr. Mary Story told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  A study showed that 9 out of 10 people underestimated the number of calories of less healthy items by an average of more than 600 calories.

The new law mandates restaurants with 20 locations or more -  and vending machines too - to post calorie counts alongside the menu item on paper menus, menu boards, and at drive-through windows.  The National Restaurant Association supports the law over a mishmash of separate state laws.  Exempt from the law are daily specials and limited-time menu items.

The Food and Drug Administration has until March 2011 to implement the new law.  Calories will be disclosed for sure, but the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is still undecided about how to handle other nutrients, if at all.  The terms and conditions for implementing the law will be published in the Federal Register before July 21, 2010.  If you have comments to make to the government, that is the time to make them.

It's unclear what effect the labeling law will have, but a study in New York City where calorie counts are on the menu showed that fast-food customers who saw calorie information bought 52 fewer calories than those who didn’t see it. The assumption is that people often make healthier choices when given calorie information and people who value their health will choose the lower calorie items
 
Trustworthy advice

Registered dietitians (RDs) play an important role in fitness, health, and nutritional treatment of diseases.  Yet, their services were rarely covered by health insurers until now.  Under the new law, medical nutrition therapy by RDs may be offered for free in a “Medical Home”. 

The law contains extensive provisions to fund pilot programs to test Physician-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) where prevention is emphasized, patients are involved, and ancillary services are organized under a personal physician.  To become a pilot PCMH, a program must show evidence that specific processes and policies are in place. If the pilot programs are successful, the Department of Health and Human Services is directed to expand PCMHs on a large scale bases.

In addition, expect to see more nutrition and wellness programs in the workplace.  The new law allows employers to offer rewards to employees who participate in programs to lose weight, stop smoking and practice other healthy behaviors.  A large number of grants will also be available to promote healthy behaviors in schools and communities.  

The bottom line:  Welcome to the era of personal responsibility.  The system is changing from one that treats sickness to one that prevents it.  The patient will be in the center.  Expect more to be expected from you.


Your thoughts....

What do you think about the changes?

Read more about these concepts:



Also on About.com

Body Composition

Read More »

Comments


I think just the calories on the main menu, and then more detailed nutritional value posted on their website or on a separate menu handout in the restaurant.



Comment Removed

I agree with just calories on the menu. Anything more would just get buried (and ignored) in the noise of TMI (too much information).



I'd like to see all the nutritional information posted somewhere convenient for the consumer at the time of purchase.  That may be on a separate handout, or on a separate page of the menu.  Many people have different needs to consider.  Someone who is watching their sodium intake, would most likely find the sodium information helpful, someone who is on anti-coagulation therapy (blood thinners) may find the potassium content helpful.  Me personally - I like to see the calorie, fiber, protein, & fat content, but that's me.  When we consider everyone - nothing less than what is expected on food/nutrition labels in the supermarkets should be accepted so that people may make the most informed decisions about what their buying/consuming.



I think calories fiber and fat, the font does not have to be large, and they could have a key C, Fb, F, for example - thease are all important - when an item has a higer fiber content it makes a difference. The fat type is also important, if they boasts no saturated fats for all items it would not need to be listed for each. This should not all be necessarry on a drive thru window, but available inside in print as wekk as that and more info on a web site.

If we are going to have an overhaul it must be done right, the post above that mentions only calories does not fully understand the bottom line. Fiber content soluble etc .



I think that the nutrition information should be as in depth as the labels on the items in the grocery stores.  That way we could have all of the information needed to make an informed decision about what is the healthiest items to purchase.  If I know that I am going to be going out to eat I try to go to the resturant site online and see what they offer. Then I make a decision on what I am going to order.  If I am caught out and cannot do that it would be very helpful to have all of the nutritional information available.  That way I would not be caught off guard and could order the heathier items.



I like the idea about the calories on the menu.  However, I am not yet sure about the rest of the bill.  I don't feel it has been adequately explained.  Anyone else out there care to comment on this?



Restaurants providing nutritional info to their patrons is one of the best ideas related to health I have heard in a long time!  I think it should be calories, fat, and sodium at the least.  Many people are completely unaware of the toll in calories and fat that a single restuarant meal can be.  Knowledge gives us power to make healthy decisions about what we eat!

http://www.healthy-eating-support.org/fatty-foods.html



Each of the above mentioned ideas for nutritional information is good, but losing58 adressed the exact problem. Rather than coming up with  another form for nutritional information, use the same format on menus that packaged food products now use. That way the people who are marginally familiar with the packaged food information will not have to learn another "nutritional language".

I would say not to be concerned on this forum about the other 1000+ pages of the bill. There is always something for eveyone to dislike in legislation of this magnitude. This is a good part of the bill; let's run with it.



Excuse me, I was referencing sandphd rather than losing58.



either way, being conscience of your habits, knowing you daily caloric intake threshold and making better decisions is the goal.  i would just like to see that!



Most chains already have this info available, but mandating that they put it on their boards and drive-thrus will GREATLY increase their costs, which will have to get passed onto us, the consumer.  If it's too difficult to ask for the brochure or walk to the chart on the wall, I maintain you really don't WANT to know.

Every time government puts one of their mandates in place it costs the PUBLIC.  If people want the info, it's available.  Stop spoon-feeding the American public...we're making them helpless and dependent.  It's not the restaurant's fault you're fat...it's yours!  Take responsibility and THEN you can do something to change it.

 If this site continues to advocate socialist policies, I won't be here much longer.



hi scooter diva, socialist policies?  americans are doing a horrible job maintaining themselves, i guess seat belt laws (designed to protect us from ourselves) are also socialist.  just like fiance laws the impede capitalism, etc, etc, etc.  please stop regurgitating ideas you heard someone else say and think for yourself. 



americans are already helpless and dependent.



I need to know carbohydrate grams in the food I eat.  Face it, there are always carbs in restaurant food.  My husband needs to see sodium grams in his foods.

Last night, we had supper at Wendy's.  All their foods' nutrition information is posted on a wall where it is easy to read and they list all the data as you would find it on a container label.  The amount of insulin I take with each meal is dependent upon the grams of carbohydrates in the meal.  So you see, this data is very important to many of us.



lol! everyone is always freaking out about "socialism" despite the fact that we already incorporate "socialism" many times over in this country & it hasn't killed us yet. look at the school system, public safety, even libraries could be considered socialist. i don't care if people think it's socialist, if it works! it's silly to be against anything if it works.

i would like to see the "socialism" go further. i want universal health care! it works for england, france, canada, & even cuba! why can't it work for us? if you have arguments on this issue i strongly suggest you watch "sicko" which dispels all arguments against universal health care thoroughly. i was amazed.

i agree with one of the previous posters in that anything more than calories in this instance might be tmi, & people won't pay attention, that wouldn't do us any good. Keep It Simple. Right?



Yeah they should definitely include sodium and carbs/sugar with the calories. 

(@ jaemolina, thanks for saying what I was thinking). 



I like the whole breakdown - both McDonald's and Wendy's do it.  Doesn't seem like it should be that difficult really.  I live in Canada - but seems like we benefit from these laws in that McDonald's and others are posting the nutritional breakdown now.  I would like to see the sodium as Canada does not restrict the amount of sodium a food can contain, which is nonsense!  I like it - it's a step in the right direction! 



Socialism doesn't work.  It gives power to a few at the top, costs more, taxes citizens more and runs less efficiently and little to no competition (which is what keeps costs down and results high!)

"Sicko" leave out a LOT and tells you only the message they want you to get.  There are horror stories coming out of England and in Canada, people come across the border to be treated when they can because of the waiting lists there.

If you need spoon-feeding, stay home with mom.  I can take care of myself and my family and don't need people telling me what to do in exchange for a few bucks.    My point is we must all take responsibility for OURSELVES and stopping blaming the folks that make more, work harder, etc, etc.  Don't like what you get when you eat out?  Stay home and cook to control the nutritional value.  It is not a RIGHT to eat out at restaurants.  Is that the next lib argument?



You're just listening to talking points on liberal networks.   I DO think for myself which is why I'm going against your socialst/I-need-someone-to-tell-me-everything-to-do-because- I'm-too-stupid-to-take-responsibility-for-myself mentality.

You can't argue with Kool Aid drinkers!



Ha ha ha! Socialists must be the new commies! I hear that word thrown around everywhere! Although I do understand what scooterdiva is saying, people do need to take responsibility for their own actions. I'm tired of hearing about someone suing the tobacco companies, or MacDonald s. I don't see how making a law that requires companies to tell us the content of what they are serving us is in anyway socialism. If anything companies like MacDonald s are probably happy to do it to protect themselves from any future lawsuits. I understand that people know what is healthy and what is not...but alot of companies out there are lying to us. MacDonald s had more calories and fat in their chicken salad than a Big Mac!! Who could have guessed that?

And it also said ONLY chains with twenty or more locations, So it will be the companies that can afford the extra expenses. In the long run us americans are going to have to spend a lot more on medically treating the affects of obesity.

Sorry to bash on Micky D's. They were just an example.



Original Post by: scooterdiva

Most chains already have this info available, but mandating that they put it on their boards and drive-thrus will GREATLY increase their costs, which will have to get passed onto us, the consumer.  If it's too difficult to ask for the brochure or walk to the chart on the wall, I maintain you really don't WANT to know.

Every time government puts one of their mandates in place it costs the PUBLIC.  If people want the info, it's available.  Stop spoon-feeding the American public...we're making them helpless and dependent.  It's not the restaurant's fault you're fat...it's yours!  Take responsibility and THEN you can do something to change it.

 If this site continues to advocate socialist policies, I won't be here much longer.


I couldn't agree more! Get government out of our lives and stop the nanny state!

If CalorieCount loves this law so much, they should understand that you get what you ask for. If this site and all of its customers love government so much, I think big government's next obligation is to provide us with a free web site to help people track their caloric intake (thus putting CalorieCount out of business).  And restaurants and manufacturers MUST be mandated by law to report their caloric information directly to that web site so it is always updated and always accurate. Then lets see how caloriecount.com likes competing with big government!

Lets face it, more government intervention is almost always a bad idea.



Exactly...the bigger chains ALREADY DO IT.  Why should they be mandated by government to spend thousands for new signage inside and at drive thru's because people are too lazy to ask for the brochure or go look at the wall chart?  

My beef is with people that think government needs to take care of everything and everybody.  Personal responsibility has gone out the window.



If CalorieCount loves this law so much, they should understand that you get what you ask for. Government's next obligation is to provide us with a free web site to help people track their caloric intake.  And restaurants and manufacturers MUST be mandated by law to report their caloric information directly to this new government web site so it is always updated and always accurate.

Then lets see how caloriecount.com likes competing with big government!  Come on caloriecount, help make this next step the law, its good for the people, and its our right to have a free and accurate government web site!

I hope caloriecount and its customers can appreciate the sarcasm and where bad laws like this can lead.  Lets face it, more government intervention is almost always a very BAD idea.



Comment Removed

Original Post by: scooterdiva

Exactly...the bigger chains ALREADY DO IT.  Why should they be mandated by government to spend thousands for new signage inside and at drive thru's because people are too lazy to ask for the brochure or go look at the wall chart?  

My beef is with people that think government needs to take care of everything and everybody.  Personal responsibility has gone out the window.


Exactly... I'm not against legislation that makes it mandatory to provide this type of nutritional information.  I think that is a no brainer, but when they start dictating how that information is available to the public they are going overboard with legislation.

Actually, I'm against much of what they are trying to do in those 1000s of pages of crap legislation.  There will be some good things in it, I admit, but I don't want to stray off the topic at hand.

Plenty of places maintain nutritional information on the food they serve.  I never have any trouble finding it in the restaurant.  Those that don't provide it - should.  Leave it at that.  The bigger issue in my mind isn't so much the availability of the information anyway as it is the educating of what it actually means.  Information without the means to interpret it is worthless. 



Original Post by: justmeonline

If CalorieCount loves this law so much, they should understand that you get what you ask for. Government's next obligation is to provide us with a free web site to help people track their caloric intake.  And restaurants and manufacturers MUST be mandated by law to report their caloric information directly to this new government web site so it is always updated and always accurate.

Then lets see how caloriecount.com likes competing with big government!  Come on caloriecount, help make this next step the law, its good for the people, and its our right to have a free and accurate government web site!

I hope caloriecount and its customers can appreciate the sarcasm and where bad laws like this can lead.  Lets face it, more government intervention is almost always a very BAD idea.


Ding, ding, ding... Personal responsibility FTW.  This day and age with the Interwebz there are plenty of ways to self-educate on this if you have the motivation to learn and can read. 

Obama talked alot about personal responsibility on the campaign trail.  I really liked that about him.  I not necessarily seeing that come out in his policies in every event however.

Good post!  We don't need Gub'mint to save us here.  We need more education in schools at earlier ages and more help community wise to help those that need it. 



Original Post by: scooterdiva

Most chains already have this info available, but mandating that they put it on their boards and drive-thrus will GREATLY increase their costs, which will have to get passed onto us, the consumer.  If it's too difficult to ask for the brochure or walk to the chart on the wall, I maintain you really don't WANT to know.

Every time government puts one of their mandates in place it costs the PUBLIC.  If people want the info, it's available.  Stop spoon-feeding the American public...we're making them helpless and dependent.  It's not the restaurant's fault you're fat...it's yours!  Take responsibility and THEN you can do something to change it.

 If this site continues to advocate socialist policies, I won't be here much longer.


rofl  

See ya!  



I'm going to have to disagree with many posts.  Of course, I'm from Canada, so I believe very firmly in government health care.  :)

While the gov't provides us with health care up here, having help does not eliminate your personal responsibility for your own actions.  We don't go around deliberatly hurting ourselves or getting morbidly obese because the government will take care of us if we do.  In fact, you'll find that Canada has much lower obesity rates than the US does.

I think that the direction that Obama is taking this is that many people in the US are undereducated, and are not cared for or can't afford private care.  The more people are educated and cared for, the more they learn to help themselves.

Think of it more as giving someone who is crippled physiotherapy instead of just a cane or walker.  With help, they may learn to do it on their own, and can help those around them.

It isn't about taking personal responsibility away from people.  It's about giving them the tools to make the right decisions, because they don't have the information to make the decisions now.  They may still choose the less healthy option... but at least it's an educated choice.

And yes, I know, we are VERY liberal up here, and lean more towards socialism... but I had to poke in my two cents.  :)



Original Post by: woelfe

Original Post by: scooterdiva

Exactly...the bigger chains ALREADY DO IT.  Why should they be mandated by government to spend thousands for new signage inside and at drive thru's because people are too lazy to ask for the brochure or go look at the wall chart?  

My beef is with people that think government needs to take care of everything and everybody.  Personal responsibility has gone out the window.


Exactly... I'm not against legislation that makes it mandatory to provide this type of nutritional information.  I think that is a no brainer, but when they start dictating how that information is available to the public they are going overboard with legislation.

Actually, I'm against much of what they are trying to do in those 1000s of pages of crap legislation.  There will be some good things in it, I admit, but I don't want to stray off the topic at hand.

Plenty of places maintain nutritional information on the food they serve.  I never have any trouble finding it in the restaurant.  Those that don't provide it - should.  Leave it at that.  The bigger issue in my mind isn't so much the availability of the information anyway as it is the educating of what it actually means.  Information without the means to interpret it is worthless. 


I guess you read it all, huh?



Actually it hasn't worked as you suppose.  The welfare roles have grown for decades as people get trapped into letting government take care of them (keeping them in poverty) or getting out there, bettering themselves where they can take care of themselves.  It becomes a way of life that is handed down for generations.

Since everyone in Canada is well-educated and so many here are not (we ALL have access to quality education...some just take it seriously while others blow it off or drop out), you might not be in a position to understand our culture.

My daughter takes health and PE in high school and it is a very serious course (with a lot of tests and projects) about nutrition and exercise and the part they play in disease, etc.  

Socialism simply takes power away from the private sector, which can offer competition and choice, and gives it all to an increasingly powerful government.  That is never a good idea and is what our forefathers did NOT want for our country as they saw first-hand the corruption that governments like this were capable of.

I'm a business owner and I know first-hand how government mandates and taxes keep many businesses from making a "go" of it.  Every time I turn around, there is a new fee, tax, requirement, etc., put on me that forces me to either work more and cut workers' hours, or raise the cost of my products and services.  Liberal/socialists don't understand how businesses succeed as they have been taught that businesses are inherently evil and government is all good a knowing.



I'm all for helping people make more well-informed choices. I think a large problem of the obesity problem stems from being uneducated or misinformed.

However, I would much rather the calorie counts and whatever other nutritional information be in pamphlets or booklets; I personally am trying to stray far away from counting calories and the last thing I need is numbers staring down at me when I just want to eat in peace :)

Pamphlets would solve both problems, while allowing more room for a more thorough nutritional analysis of each menu item.



I forgot to say: I know some of you are saying that many restaurants already provide brochures, but I've always had difficulty with this. Many don't, first of all. Second, it's been often that I've asked for information and they say they don't have it (I am referring to restaurants that I know DO have it, like McD's etc.) If this law does one thing, at least it will give an option for the information to be available at places it isn't already.



Those of you who cry "we're becoming a socialist country" are just buying the rants of tea baggers, Palin, Bachmann, Beck, Hannity, McConnell and the other extreme conservatives without really educating themselves on what socialism really is.  This country has been engaged in an ongoing effort and debate on a more universal form of health care for the last 100 years.  This isn't something new and it certainly isn't just Obama's or Clinton's idea. 

Health care and insurance coverage should not be restricted to those who aren't sick, who have never been seriously ill, young people, rich people, employed people.  Everyone should be able to get quality health care and not have to become destitute to get it.  Exactly what is it about this concept that makes the US a socialist nation?

Do you have a better idea that would help those who otherwise can't afford medical insurance/care? 

What is it that makes you disdain your fellow man so much that you would rather see him die than get the medical help he needs to live? 



You guys are all forgetting that at least three quarters of this nation is dumb and lazy.      



Which is why I pointed out that a big part of the problem is people who are uneducated.



http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/nutrition_f acts.html

 

Here ya go.  McDonald's nutrition chart.  Took me 8 seconds to pull it up.  If you're typing here, you have access to this just as quickly and easily as I.  Stop asking government to make laws that just keep you from typing 4 words in a google search, because I'm part of the 53% in this country that will have to FUND that crap!



The notion that nutritional info is already available is not quite right. It hasn't been available in many states until just recently.  In California it is only now a law...only two years ago the only info one could get was if the company had the info listed on the web, but only a few did.  Once the law went into effect I was amazed to see how much a meal out would cost in calories...entrees that were 1500 calories a serving!! And this wasn't things dripping in sauces or other obvious sources of calories...even salads are high.

I'm glad that the nutritional info on restaurant foods is going to be a national thing...there is nothing socialistic about giving people information they need



CalorieCount,

I wish you hadn't allowed politics to be part of this site.



Scooterdiva just shut up. 



Ahhhh....the intelligence and open-mindedness of the left, huh, "pumpkin"?  Can't debate, so throw out school yard jeers?  Let me guess, you're part of the group that calls us "tea baggers" and "racists" simply because we disagree with your ideas?

I suggest a little more time reading history and less reading and listening to gossip.

 



Calorie info on a drive-thru board will not turn are country into a socialist nation.  Calm down, it's going to be okay. 



I don't like the sounds of the "limited time menu items".  Does that mean that McDonalds and others will just start taking the Big Mac off the menu every once in a while and not be required to reveal their nutritional info?  These big companies are all about loopholes!



Original Post by: alliecat73

I don't like the sounds of the "limited time menu items".  Does that mean that McDonalds and others will just start taking the Big Mac off the menu every once in a while and not be required to reveal their nutritional info?  These big companies are all about loopholes!


Ah, yes the evil capitalists.......of course

 



I have found it fairly easy to get the nutritional information for most fast food and sit-down restaurants here in Alberta, Canada. The only restaurant that is a chain that doesn't seem to have any nutritional information available is Moxie's Classic Grill (they are all over Canada). I've researched this over and over and come up with nothing. I'm sure it could be comparable to the Earl's menu (which is online), but as a result of this I have refused to eat at Moxie's until they have a nutritional information guide for the public. I understand that food that is prepared fresh, one dish could have a little more oil or seasoning than the next, but a guideline would still be helpful.



Original Post by: amber_poole

Calorie info on a drive-thru board will not turn are country into a socialist nation.  Calm down, it's going to be okay. 


Have you looked at the rest of the bill?  Read all 2000 pages?  Hang on to your hats folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride....but only for 53% of us.  (See 47% of us don't pay any federal taxes.)  There will not a be a single insurance company left after ten years.  Government owns a car company and half of our large banks.  But really, it's ok.  Don't you worry your little heads.  And oh yeah, in the "health" care bill they took over all student loans, now THEY get to choose who gets a student loan. I wonder what health care has to do with student loans?  



Those who think its great to surrender your own personal responsibility in staying fit to some faceless bureaucracy enacting new rules, proposed by politicians out for their own interests, are probably the same people who thought it was perfectly safe for their own personal finances to take out 40-year subprime mortgages while purchasing over vauled homes.

After all, it was the politicians, who not only helped create these wonderful programs but also promoted those financial outcomes through their rhetoric and policies!

So for those of you so happy about new policies involving greater government control over your life versus your own personal awareness and responsibility take note.

And for CalorieCount: Make a better effort next time to stay nonpartisan. We can exercise without Uncle Sam Obama pushing on our backs.



Original Post by: woelfe

Original Post by: justmeonline

If CalorieCount loves this law so much, they should understand that you get what you ask for. Government's next obligation is to provide us with a free web site to help people track their caloric intake.  And restaurants and manufacturers MUST be mandated by law to report their caloric information directly to this new government web site so it is always updated and always accurate.

Then lets see how caloriecount.com likes competing with big government!  Come on caloriecount, help make this next step the law, its good for the people, and its our right to have a free and accurate government web site!

I hope caloriecount and its customers can appreciate the sarcasm and where bad laws like this can lead.  Lets face it, more government intervention is almost always a very BAD idea.


Ding, ding, ding... Personal responsibility FTW.  This day and age with the Interwebz there are plenty of ways to self-educate on this if you have the motivation to learn and can read. 

Obama talked alot about personal responsibility on the campaign trail.  I really liked that about him.  I not necessarily seeing that come out in his policies in every event however.

Good post!  We don't need Gub'mint to save us here.  We need more education in schools at earlier ages and more help community wise to help those that need it. 


this is sort of contradictory, 1st you say we don't need government to save us but then you put it on the school system which is controlled by *gasp*, guess who, government.

God help us! the socialism is running rampant. lol!



Just my opinion...Some people ALWAYS have to have a complaint about everything. They are NEVER happy. There is definitely one of those on this website, and taking over these comments with political jargon. I am with "weightrange" in saying that they should not be allowed to post their political views on a website, whose exact purpose is to help you lose weight and keep better track of your calories! Why are you on here in the first place "scooterdiva?"

How in the world is giving people more information about what they are putting into their body, so they can make better choices, a negative thing? Paper in restaurants and signs do not cost much money, and I'm sure the obesity in this country far outweighs the few dollars that might be needed to post this information!

 



Original Post by: kellic2174

Just my opinion...Some people ALWAYS have to have a complaint about everything. They are NEVER happy. There is definitely one of those on this website, and taking over these comments with political jargon. I am with "weightrange" in saying that they should not be allowed to post their political views on a website, whose exact purpose is to help you lose weight and keep better track of your calories! Why are you on here in the first place "scooterdiva?"

How in the world is giving people more information about what they are putting into their body, so they can make better choices, a negative thing? Paper in restaurants and signs do not cost much money, and I'm sure the obesity in this country far outweighs the few dollars that might be needed to post this information!

 


I agree.  Calorie Count was very irresponsible about posting this controversial article. 



Join Calorie Count - it's easy and free!
CREATE FREE ACCOUNT
Advertisement
Advertisement
Allergy Remedies
Is It Possible to Go Natural?
The side effects of allergy medications keep some people from using them. Natural remedies can be a great alternative, but some are more effective than others.