The Difference Between Informing and Nagging

On Friday I attended a CDC-sponsored obesity conference where I participated in a panel discussion about laws requiring the conspicuous display of calorie counts in restauraunts, the topic of Steve Chapman's latest column. Chapman notes "there is little research to suggest that calorie alerts will make any difference in obesity rates," which is why a new study of fast food customers in New York City that was discussed at the conference is bound to be widely cited.

The researchers, all of whom work for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, surveyed about 7,300 customers at 275 randomly selected locations of 11 fast food chains before the city's new menu board requirement took effect. (The regulation, which requires calorie counts as big as prices, is still being contested in court, but some chains are already complying.) The health department researchers found that 32 percent of Subway customers said they had seen calorie information, compared to 4 percent of customers at other fast food restaurants. Since Subway promotes a subset of its menu as lower in calories and fat than its competitors' offerings, using a pitchman who lost hundreds of pounds while eating at the chain every day, this disparity is not surprising. But even at Subway, calorie information seemed to make a difference for a minority of customers. Of those who reported seeing the calorie information at Subway, 37 percent (i.e., 12 percent of all Subway customers) said it affected their purchases. Subway customers who said they used calorie information bought about 100 fewer calories (based on data from receipts and survey questions) than those who said they didn't see it and those who said they saw it but didn't use it.

Notably, "there was no significant difference in mean calories purchased by patrons reporting seeing but not using calorie information and patrons who reported not seeing calorie information." In other words, simply making people aware of calorie content is not enough to affect their food choices. It may be that the information's influence is limited to people who are predisposed to count calories, in which case the impact of regulations like New York's will depend on the extent to which those people are not already taking advantage of nutritional information available on fast food chains' websites and on posters, counter mats, tray liners, and brochures in restaurants.

Already supporters of New York-style menu rules are using this study, which is scheduled to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, to estimate how many lives can be saved by making calorie information more conspicuous. Given the uncertainty about who would lose how much weight and what the health consequences would be, this is a dubious exercise. Even if the health risks (or benefits) of extra pounds were well understood (they aren't), it's not clear that the Subway results can be applied to customers of other restaurants. Given its emphasis on healthier options, Subway probably is more likely than other chains to attract weight-conscious customers, the sort who seek calorie information and act on it.

Even so, only 12 percent of Subway customers in this study (i.e., 37 percent of 32 percent) said they noticed the calorie information and took it into account. This suggests that the vast majority of fast food customers are not very interested in nutritional information, as does the fact that most chains make it available without highlighting it in the way that the New York City health department thinks is appropriate. The restaurant business is highly competitive. If people are clamoring for impossible-to-ignore calorie counts, why don't more restaurants voluntarily provide them as a way of attracting customers? A legal requirement is necessary not because diners want conspicuous nutritional information but because, by and large, they don't want it. The information apparently does not enhance their dining experience and may even detract from it. Perhaps they prefer to enjoy their food without being reminded about what it may be adding to their waistlines.

Pretty soon, I suspect, customers of restaurant chains (the focus of the regulations, since it's hard for mom-and-pop restaurants to standardize dishes) will no longer be able to exercise their right not to know. In addition to New York City, jurisdictions requiring conspicuous nutritional information in restaurants include San Francisco; Santa Clara County, California; and King's County, Washington. California, New York state, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. are considering similar requirements. As the restaurant industry faces a multiplicity of demands from various jurisdictions (Santa Clara County, for example, requires fat, carbohydrate, and sodium information as well as calorie counts), it may start lobbying for a national law that establishes a uniform standard.

Radley Balko criticized menu regulations in his Fox News column last week.

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  • ||

    Subway

    Yuck, what awful sandwiches they make, whatever the calorie count. Just terrible stuff.

  • ||

    Five.

    Five Dollar.

    Five Dollar Foot Long.

  • ||

    A friend of my wife was Jared's wife's college room-mate. Reportedly a huge douche. I've seen picture from the wedding. [shudder]

  • ||

    But it's for the FAT children!

  • ||

    In other words, simply making people aware of calorie content is not enough to affect their food choices.

    You had your chance fat-ass. Now we'll do it OUR way.

  • Bingo||

    There is nutritional info listed on the side of everything in the grocery store but that doesn't stop people from eating the entire bag of Ruffles.

    If people are going to be fat asses, then they are going to be fat asses. I don't care as long as there are still plenty of good looking women running around in shorts and tanktops (god I love summer).

  • Guy Montag||

    On Friday I attended a CDC-sponsored obesity conference

    Well, Death Veggie from Cult of the Dead Cow is certainly one of the better folks to hose such a confrence.

  • ||

    Why do we never see Jared take off his shirt?

  • Episiarch||

    Five.

    Five Dollar.

    Five Dollar Foot Long.


    Yes, $5 for a bread sandwich is a truly super deal. After all, who wants meat and cheese on their sandwich?

  • Orange Line Special||

    Win $1,000,000!*

    Find an example of Reason Magazine promoting something that would *hurt* major corporations rather than assist them.

    * $1,000,000 will not be awarded to anyone under any circumstances. There is no contest. That figure is only used to make a point.

  • ||

    Almost no one seriously goes around all day counting calories, which is what would be required for this to do anything.

    Does this mean I get to file a lawsuit demanding carbs be shown, now too? As an insulin-dependent diabetic (Type I juvenile, not Type II lardass), I actually do have to crunch the numbers when I eat- except I don't count calories. I count carbs. And at restaurants, I have to simply guesstimate what the carbs are. (Which I've never had any problem doing).

    Maybe I can get together with the people watching sodium intake and we can have an Equal Protection lawsuit. Why do the fatties get special government-mandated help and not us?

    /wouldn't be surprised to see this actually happen

  • ||

    liberty mike,

    Because most people don't have your sick sexual proclivities.

  • ||

    In other words, simply making people aware of calorie content is not enough to affect their food choices

    You hear that? It's not enough! "We" need to do more to help make people make better standardized food choices!

  • Guy Montag||

    Back in the early 1990s I got a quite annoying, up close view of the typical shrill Leftist thought behind these crazy calls for regulation: I dated her.

    While dating a Leftist health nut in college, she freaked out about my choice of the Coldcut Combo at Subway saying it was "full of fat". No, it had (then) some low amount of fat as long as you skipped oil and mayo. Her shrill Leftie scream in response was that they would be advertising that if they were. Well, they were and they had it on the menu too (which was pointed out to her silence the next time we went).

    Her choice for inexpensive healthy food was Chinese takeout.

    Had a similar encounter with her saying "I used to always buy Adidas but, they stopped selling to the USA" and I attempted to inform her that they did, indeed, begin selling again in the USA, which was met with a shrill denial. So I took her to the Adidas store in Pentagon City Mall the first time we visited DC.

    Unfortunatly, you can't tell those people anything and rubbing their nose in it, like a dog who took a crap in the house, only works for individual examples on rare occasion.

  • ||

    Lonewacko -
    You mean like not supporting immunity for the telecoms or bailouts of investment banks/mortgage lenders? Or did you mean something else?

  • ||

    Sugar Free-

    I may have some sick sexual proclivities but they do not include checking out Jared's naked torso. I asked the question because many of the weight loss infomercials are not shy about showing some skin as "proof" that their product is working. Ditto for many print advertisements, such as hydroxycut,etc.

    Jared may have lost 200 pounds but I suspect that he may still be a dough boy.

  • Rhywun||

    they stopped selling to the USA



    I didn't know that. I have a pair that's like 10 years old--those things are built like tanks. I would have been sad if I couldn't buy another pair--if the need ever arises.

  • Rhywun||

    Jared may have lost 200 pounds but I suspect that he may still be a dough boy.



    I don't Subway ever claimed it gave Jared Abs of Steel&tm;.

  • Guy Montag||

    Rhywun,

    The conversations I mentioned happened in 1994. I do not know of them ceasing sales in the USA since then.

  • Rhywun||

    Oh bollocks. That was supposed to be ™.

  • ||

    liberty mike,

    He might not be fat, but instead be trying to hide the wrinkled folds of skin that hang off of him like a series of giant labias.

    Besides, much like the girl I see jogging every morning on my way to work, Jared can lose all the weight he wants, it's not going to do anything about the ugly.

  • Rhywun||

    The conversations I mentioned happened in 1994. I do not know of them ceasing sales in the USA since then.



    Yeah, I see some people wearing them & they look newer than mine. That's a relief.

  • ||

    So, Guy, did she change at all after you married her?

  • Episiarch||

    I certainly have bought Adidas gear, including shoes, within the last few years.

    Besides, much like the girl I see jogging every morning on my way to work, Jared can lose all the weight he wants, it's not going to do anything about the ugly.

    Don't you understand, NutraSweet...if she can only get thin enough then it no longer matters! Just like Sarah Jessica Parker!

  • Guy Montag||

    So, Guy, did she change at all after you married her?

    ROFLMAO!!!!

    I was dating her after my response to any hint at marriage was "never again".

    Heard that she married a CIA guy in the DC beltway area.

  • Guy Montag||

    Just like Sarah Jessica Parker!

    Yumm!

    Too bad she can't weld :(

  • ||

    Already supporters of New York-style menu rules are using this study, which is scheduled to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, to estimate how many lives can be saved by making calorie information more conspicuous.[emphasis added]

    Already did it.
    1 ± 2.

  • Episiarch||

    You'd better be joking about that "yumm", Guy.

  • ||

    Guy,

    I know the type of person you mean. However, they're not limited to a particular political viewpoint. Ever meet one of those people who refuses to believe that a non-terrorist could ever possibly have been incarcerated at Guantanamo?

  • ||

    What is it with Parker and women? They get so pissed when you point out the fact that very few straight men think she's is attractive. (The ones that do, more power to you.)

    It's probably related to women hardly ever admitting another woman is fat. They never want the same standard applied to them.

    Trying to dictate when men can find attractive is the epic fail moment of feminism.

  • ||

    I was dating her after my response to any hint at marriage was "never again".

    Smart man. I didn't figure that out until it was too late.

  • ||

    ITT: LoneWhackoff gets owned.

    Also in this thread: Subway is disgusting.

  • ||

    LoneWacko, you mean opposing hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports franchises? Or did you mean something else?

  • ||

    Trying to dictate when men can find attractive is the epic fail moment of feminism.

    Feminism. Attractive. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

  • ||

    LoneWacko, you mean opposing the gov't using eminent domain to take people's home so a drug company can build an office complex? Or did you mean something else?

  • Episiarch||

    What is it with Parker and women? They get so pissed when you point out the fact that very few straight men think she's is attractive.

    This is what they see: thin, "glamorous", stylish, loved by gay men.

    What they don't see, but we do: Her fucking horse face.

  • Guy Montag||

    Please, scroll up for quote attribution.

    You'd better be joking about that "yumm", Guy.

    Nope, I think she is a babe. Hope she wears those heels to bed too.

    I know the type of person you mean. However, they're not limited to a particular political viewpoint. Ever meet one of those people who refuses to believe that a non-terrorist could ever possibly have been incarcerated at Guantanamo?

    Same viewpoint but they have a different topic. Have met some of those people who want "a windfall profits tax on oil companies just like Nixon did it". Still a Leftist attitude, they just can't figure out they should not be calling themselves 'Conservatives'. Go figure.

    Smart man. I didn't figure that out until it was too late.

    Me too. She was one of the first chicks I dated after getting divorced.

  • ||

    LoneWackJob--Did you mean railing against rent-seeking corporate welfare queens or eminent domain abusers? Or did you mean something else?

  • ||

    LoneWacko, You mean Reason's consistent call for liberalizing Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws much to the detriment of huge media companies like Disney? Or did you mean something else?

  • Guy Montag||

    Feminism. Attractive. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

    'Feminism' is just a plot to allow ugly chicks to get more attention.

  • ||

    Her fucking horse face.

    I never really found her all that ugly until woman and gay men started insisting she was attractive.

  • Some Arabian Sheik||

    Sarah Jessica Parker is a handsome steed that I wish to add to my stable.

  • Guy Montag||

    Are you guys responding to a LoneWacko post or are you calling joe LoneWacko?

    Filter is back on and staying on.

  • ||

    Ah, James beat me to it. Can't these people coming in my office see that I'm typing?

  • Guy Montag||

    SF,

    You know a lot of homosexual males who find her attractive? I don't know of any who do, but my set is small.

  • ||

    Lonewacko -
    You mean like not supporting immunity for the telecoms or bailouts of investment banks/mortgage lenders? Or did you mean something else?

    LoneWacko, you mean opposing hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports franchises? Or did you mean something else?


    LoneWacko, you mean the numerous articles denouncing ag subsidies to ADM, and the like? Or did you mean something else?

  • TallDave||

    Our local Djs call her "Sarahca Jessica Parker." Nice skinny little bod, face is meh.

    I would hit it, then turn her out to pasture.

  • TallDave||

    Guy,

    Filter is full of win.

  • GG||

    This is what they see: thin, "glamorous", stylish, loved by gay men...

    like her husband.

    Will is hoping Obama is more of a "nudger." Or a "libertarian paternalist," if you will.

    Nudge Against the Fudge

  • ||

    GM,

    I thinking more of the SATC fan-base than actual anecdotes. They like her gay husband, though.

  • ||

    "Nudge Against the Fudge"

    That may be the gayest thing I've heard in a long time.

  • Guy Montag||

    That may be the gayest thing I've heard in a long time.

    I still think Rainbow Warrior has the edge over that one.

  • ||

    Has anybody seen the Sex in the City movie? Her mug aside, how can a straight guy not be moved by her gorgeous gams? Further, her abs have to better then Jared's.

  • ||

    libert mike -
    I will agree that Sarah Jessica Parker is more attractive than Jared.

  • ||

    Also, as a nomination for "gayest thing I've heard in a long time," I heard the song Good Old-Fashioned Loverboy over the weekend and finally paid attention to the lyrics.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    Are you suggesting Freddie Mercury is gay? You got any evidence for this or are you just talking out of your ass again?

  • Guy Montag||

    SF,

    Please, never mention Mr. Mercury and anything about ass in the same comment again.

  • Episiarch||

    like her husband.

    I don't know about that (I noted a previous experience with Broderick here).

  • ||

    GM,

    You think the gayest thing ever is a boat the French secret service sunk. Mercury was the straightest straight that ever straightened. You couldn't be straighter than him if you were made out of a bunch of rulers somebody taped together!

    He had a mustache, for fuck's sakes! How much more he-man hetero can you get?

  • ||

    I was periodically allowed to and not allowed to listen to Queen growing up because my mother would forget and then subsequently remember that Freddie Mercury was gay. On her good days, you'll hear "Oh, I love Queen"

  • Guy Montag||

    You think the gayest thing ever is a boat the French secret service sunk.

    I was talking about Jeff Gordon.

    You know what they call guys who don't know anything about NASCAR don't you?

  • ||

    I was walking up Madison one day with my girlfriend at the time, who was HOT (she was a model), and we walked past Matthew Broderick walking his little dog. He turned to look at her like a slack-jawed yokel (you would expect a smoother move by a celebrity, but I guess being married to Jennifer Grey would mess you up) and almost got hit by a car. I laughed and laughed.

    Epi, maybe he was just gawking at her shoes. Or Jennifer Grey eventually turned him off the attentions and affections of the fairer sex. (And I don't mean blond rent-boys.)

  • ||

    You know what they call guys who don't know anything about NASCAR don't you?

    Literate?

  • ||

    You know what they call guys who don't know anything about NASCAR don't you?

    Sir?
    ;)

  • Guy Montag||

    No, you fags.

  • Episiarch||

    Epi, maybe he was just gawking at her shoes. Or Jennifer Grey eventually turned him off the attentions and affections of the fairer sex.

    Dude, I'd say he was staring at me instead except it was 110% obvious he was staring at her huge, gravity-defying tits.

    Do you have any "evidence" that he's gay (other than you going down on him at a glory hole)? Because after seeing the way he behaved on the street, if he's gay, so is Sean Connery.

  • ||

    Do you have any "evidence" that he's gay?

    Wow, you are really defensive. Is he like your boyfriend or something?

  • Mike Piazza||

    First of all, I'm not gay. I'm heterosexual. No really. I mean it.

  • ||

    Yeah Epi - if you love Matthew Broderick so much, why don't you marry him?

  • Episiarch||

    (sob)

    Because he married that horse!

    (runs off)

  • ||

    Piazza, New York Catcher
    Belle and Sebastian

    Elope with me, Miss Private, and we'll sail around the world
    I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl
    How many nights of talking in hotel rooms can you take?
    How many nights of limping around on pagan holidays?
    Oh, elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze
    A trail for the devil to erase

    San Francisco's calling us, the Giants and Mets will play
    Piazza, New York catcher, are you straight or are you gay?
    We hung about the stadium, we've got no place to stay
    We hung about the Tenderloin and tenderly you tell
    About the saddest book you ever read, it always makes you cry
    The statue's crying too and well he may

    I love you, I've a drowning grip on your adoring face
    I love you, my responsibility has found a place beside you
    And strong warnings in the guise of gentle words
    Come wave upon me from the wider family net absurd
    "You'll take care of her, I know it, you will do a better job"
    Maybe, but not what she deserves

    Elope with me, Miss Private, and we'll drink ourselves awake
    We'll taste the coffee houses and award certificates
    A privy seal to keep the feel of 1960 style
    We'll comment on the decor and we'll help the passer by
    And at dusk when work is over we'll continue the debate
    In a borrowed bedroom virginal and spare

    The catcher hits for .318 and catches every day
    The pitcher puts religion first and rests on holidays
    He goes into cathedrals and lies prostrate on the floor
    He knows the drink affects his speed, he's praying for a doorway
    Back into the life he wants and the confession of the bench
    Life outside the diamond is a wrench

    I wish that you were here with me to pass the dull weekend
    I know it wouldn't come to love, my heroine pretend
    A lady stepping from the songs we love until this day
    You'd settle for an epitaph like "Walk Away, Renee"
    The sun upon the roof in winter will draw you out like a flower
    Meet you at the statue in an hour
    Meet you at the statue in an hour

  • GG||

    Dude, I'd say he was staring at me instead except it was 110% obvious he was staring at her huge, gravity-defying tits.

    Gay men love big tits! That said, effeminate != gay.

    Speaking of SATC homosexuals ... Cynthia Nixon's love is truly blind.

  • Guy Montag||

    SugarFree,

    THAT was gayer than "Nudge Against the Fudge".

  • Episiarch||

    Damn, GG, is that for real?

  • ||

    GM,

    Sorry, what did you say? I can't make you out over the sound of a bunch of guys driving in a circle for two hours...

  • ||

    What the heck is SATC?

  • Orange Line Special||

    Ouch. I have to admit that was some serious pwnage up there. I guess all you UsefulIdiots are more useful (though no less idiotic) than I gave you credit for. However embarrassing you might think this failure of mine is, it does not detract from my overall credibility on IllegalImmigration so don't be to quick to pat yourself on the back you fools.

  • GG||

    Damn, GG, is that for real?

    It's for real.

  • ||

  • ||

    Subway's calorie counts are for imaginary subs anyway. They don't include cheese or condiments. So when you get that "under 6 grams of fat" turkey sub with the low low calorie count on the menu, then tell the sandwich artist to put extra Provolone on it and drown it in mayo and mustard, you've gone and shot the calorie count to hell.

  • Episiarch||

    If Nixon was hot this would be more disturbing, and therefore more interesting.

  • ||

    If Nixon was hot

    I wonder if this deleted Cynthia Nixon scene will make it onto the DVDs.

  • ||

    JW -
    SATC = Sex and the City

  • Orange Line Special||

    When sockpuppets attack! I tend to suspect that if the money were followed on the examples provided above we'd find that there's simply one set of corporations on one side and another on the other side.

  • ||

    SATC = Sex and the City

    Ah, that makes more sense. I'm not sure why I didn't connect the dots on that one.

  • ||

    I tend to suspect that if the money were followed on the examples provided above we'd find that there's simply one set of corporations on one side and another on the other side.

    No, that's "Net Neutrality."

  • Orange Line Special||

    That last post wasn't me. I not so stupid that I'd attempt such a ShamefullyEmbarrassing escape from my thorough pwning as that. When confronted with facts I wouldn't be so pathetic as to try to weasel my way out with what amounts to a WhimperingUnfalsifiable "even if it doesn't seem to benefit a corporation I know it does in some hidden way that you just can see so I'm still right, so there!" Seriously, just look at my site and you'd know that I would never write something as childish and lame as that last comment pretending to be me.

  • Orange Line Special||

    And whoever is pretending to be me is going to end up wishing he was only getting deported as an IllegalMexican when my LegalJewish lawyers are done with him.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I will agree that Sarah Jessica Parker is more attractive than Jared.

    Even I will concede this. Still, I saw her on the picture of one of the checkout line chicmags, and was again stunned at what a homely "beauty" she is.

    I loved the Simpsons line "it's a show about three hookers and their mother..."

  • Robert||

    The thing about Subway is that unlike any self-respecting deli, they pre-cut their cold cuts so they're always dry and practically demand to be greased up with something to compensate. They must not trust their employees with cutting tools.

    Blimpie bases aren't quite as bad IIRC, but none of the chains equal the independent delis.

  • dhex||

    You know what they call guys who don't know anything about NASCAR don't you?

    interesting?

  • Just Sayin||

    Sarah Jessica Parker had a certain je ne sais quoi in LA Story.

    It ain't that she's ugly, it's that she's 40.

  • ||

    You know what they call guys who listen to Belle and Sebastian?

  • ||

    None of the SATC girls are all that bad-looking (although Kim Cattrall was past her prime early in the show, and SJP was never all that), but, damn, you put nearly any woman next to Kristin Davis and she's going to look like the consolation prize.

  • ladystar||

    When I dine out, I do not need a menu cluttered with nutritional information. My concern is a fine meal. The food cops are a band of idiots, meddling in our private lives, and terrorizing restaurant owners. Anybody who is that concerned about what they eat, should stay home and enjoy their rice cakes, tofu, and sprouts.

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