US wants restaurants to show calorie content on menus

April 3rd, 2011 - 10:21 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 3 (IANS/EFE) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require, starting in 2012, that restaurants list the amount of calories contained in their menu items as part of the fight against obesity in this country.

“These proposals will ensure that consumers have more information when they make their own food choices,” Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Public Services, said in a communique Friday.

“Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier,” she said.

According to the federal agency, Americans consume a third of their total calorie intake in meals prepared outside the home.

Up to now such detailed calorie counts have only been required on packaged foods.

The FDA estimates that the measure will affect close to 280,000 restaurants and includes chains with 20 or more locations in the US.

The regulation also states that a diet of 2,000 calories a day is used as the standard for adequate nutrition.

The FDA regulation does not, however, require that the calories in soft drinks and alcoholic beverages be listed.

“The industry and general public will have 60 days to comment” on the new menu-labelling requirement, the online Nation’s Restaurant News said.

“The FDA is expected to publish its final regulations by the end of this year, and enforcement could begin as early as summer of 2012.”

The fight against obesity has been a priority of the administration of President Barack Obama because of the worrying increase of this problem across the country, particularly among the very young.

The latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, released in late 2010, said there were 2.4 million obese adults in the US.

First lady Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” programme last year to cultivate healthy eating habits and promote physical exercise, particularly among little girls and boys.

The problem of overweight affects one out of every three children in the US and one in every six is obese, a proportion that has grown steadily since the 1970s, when one in every 20 children was overweight.

–IANS/EFE
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