Fast-Food Calorie Information is Ineffective

After a long and exhausting day, sometimes all I want is to consume a cheat meal. Most of the time I crave a burger and head to the McDonald’s downtown. As I read my options and finally pick which burger I want, I slowly move my gaze to locate the price. As I do this, I see a different, larger number that I was not looking for. . . the calories. Most of the time when I see the calories, I ignore them and still place my order. My action to continue ordering my unhealthy meal is consistent with the result of a recent survey.

According to HealthDay News, beginning next May fast food restaurants that have over 20 locations will have to list the calories next to each of their menu items nationwide. This is not the first time that restaurants have had to do this. In fact, since 2010 Philadelphia restaurants have already been forced to list this information next to their menu items. The point of listing the calories next to the food is to encourage individuals to make healthier options given that the United States is infamously known as being one of the most obese nations in the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 37 percent of U.S. adults are obese. Even more concerning is that 17 percent of U.S. teenagers are obese as well. It is likely that when teenagers are obese they will continue to live their unhealthy lifestyles as adults. Being Philadelphia is not the only major U.S. city to impose this law and the obesity rates still remain so large, Andrew Breck of NYU, along with his associates, interviewed a 1,400 consumers of fast food in Philadelphia and asked them if they noticed the calories next to menu items. The consensus of these consumers was that they did not notice it. This is concerning and in the best interest of the nation to employ different methods to hopefully empty other methods so that citizens are aware of the nutritional value of the food that they eat, but how can this be done?

I think that it would be best to perform a study and test different methods to make the nutritional information more noticeable to consumers by picking the best method. It would be best to perform a longitudinal experiment in order to track the individuals to identify if there is an improvement or decline in their health. Furthermore, a random sampling would be beneficial to this study in order to represent the population most accurately. The researchers of the study could employ different advertising techniques to see which one the participants of the study take more notice of. At the conclusion of the study, the advertising techniques utilized by the group that improves the most in health could then be taken to a larger scale. The alternative hypothesis of this study is that one of the advertising techniques will make the participants more aware of the food that they consume. On the contrary, the null hypothesis is that there will be no difference in both groups. I suspect that if this study were to occur, the alternative hypothesis would prove to be correct.

I think that it would be beneficial to the health of the nation to use better advertising techniques to assist in making the population more healthy. With this being said, it is likely that people will still continue to live their unhealthy lifestyles even if different techniques were utilized. To changes one’s lifestyle, that person must want it, it cannot be forced.


4 thoughts on “Fast-Food Calorie Information is Ineffective

  1. Luyi Yao

    I just ate some fast food bought from MIX. I think although the restaurant post the calorie list, it can not make a big influence in people’s decisions. Because people entering the fast-food restaurant have already decided to eat high calories food. So it is ineffective! I share you guys a link about that why many people knowing that fast food is unhealthy still eat fast food from New York Times.

  2. ljj126

    I feel like this study didn’t even consider the null hypothesis. One would think that, that anyone who really knows better, “knows” that those options of food really aren’t that good. As you mentioned it is a very small step on the right direction, however, I think that there are large issues that surround why people are forgoing healthier options. And those are variables that weren’t measured or accounted for. For instance, It is fast, cheap and easy…. all things most people need in their daily, and hectic live. Obviously if you could eat organic and grass fed beef that would be great, but plain and simple, many can’t afford it. Along with that, college students need something quick for their daily routine running from class to class with group projects to work on and so on. Also, the access to good food is harder than it is to get to as well. So the research showed good info, but I would have changed the theory of the question. Really good work! it was very interesting.

  3. Caroline Sorrentino

    This is a great post and very relevant to my personal life! I don’t know why we feel that we DESERVE a bad meal after a long, hard day but we find ourselves looking for that unhealthy treat or reward. I feel like the food you chose to eat reflects your personality. For instance, if someone eats a Kale and Quinoa salad and a green smoothie, they are viewed as very healthy, like they care a lot about their body. They may even be viewed as wealthier than their peers who cannot afford the $16 “meal”. When people think McDonalds, they think “obese people, low income, fast and easy”. These may all be true in stereo type, but like the Kale example, you don’t need to be rich to eat it. Likewise you don’t need to be poor to eat McDonalds or Taco Bell. This is a great article about someone who is very wealthy and how her food choices and the amount she spends on it reflects her Class in American society compared to those who cannot afford the organic food she can.

  4. Nicholas E Schneider

    After reading your blog post I definitely agree that making consumers more aware of the nutritional values of their fast food could and would be nothing but beneficial to the health of Americans, but I do not believe that a lack of education/knowledge surrounding nutritional information is our biggest problem. Could having caloric and fat values posted on the McDonald’s menu influence someone to order a chicken snack wrap rather than a Big Mac and fries? Absolutely, but like you said, a lifestyle change cannot be forced, it has to be welcomed. In the end, when an individual walks into a fast food restaurant he/she is aware of what they’re are getting themselves in to. Even young kids know that a McDonald’s meal is less healthy than grilled chicken and a salad. Yes, more visible nutritional values are a step in the right direction, but America’s fight against obesity would be more effective if people hit the gym and made conscious diet changes rather than opting for the 500-calorie McNuggets over the 600-calorie Quarter Pounder with cheese.

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