The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Health care bill serves up new standard for restaurants

President Obama’s health care legislation will affect our tax dollars and physical, but we may not have heard much about how it will affect our health, nutrition wise. 

Here is some information about Obama’s bill, and how it may change the way you think before you eat.

Tucked away in the 2,500-page health care legislation signed by President Obama is a requirement for all chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus, menu boards and drive-thrus.

The idea behind the new law is for customers to realize how many calories they are about to consume, before they place their orders.

Currently, most restaurants offer nutritional information but it is in a hallway, posted on their Web site or in a small pamphlet behind the counter.

Some restaurants, such as Panera Bread, have already started posting their nutrition for customers.

On March 24 calorie counts were placed on all menu boards across the nation at the company’s 585 locations.

“I think it’s absolutely great,” Brian Stewart, manager of Panera on Park Lane, said. “I think from a trust standpoint a lot of guests are going to be very receptive to the fact that as restaurants we’re becoming more transparent about our nutritional values: nobody’s hiding anything anymore.

“We’re not trying to be deceptively healthy. If it’s not healthy up there you’re going to know it,” he said.

The calorie postings were tested across the nation in different markets before Panera decided to roll out the menu boards company-wide.

“It’s been really well-received,” Stewart said.  “There’s been a lot of comments from customers—they kind of second-guess themselves now on some things that they thought were a little healthier that actually aren’t.

“But some of the guests don’t even care they’re just like ‘OK, yeah that Italian Combo Sandwich has over a thousand calories to it, but I like it anyway and I’m going to stay loyal to it.’ They appreciate the fact that we’re upfront and honest about it but at the same time they’re not shying away from it,” Stewart said.

Thus, it is not clear whether this law will achieve its goal for a healthier America and reduce the obesity rate.

In 2009, two-thirds of American adults were either obese or overweight, according to healthyamericans.org.

“I honestly don’t think it will make America the least bit healthier,” Tom Gwalthey, general manager of Wendy’s on Greenville Avenue, said. “In my twenty years as General Manager not one person has asked about calories.”

A regular customer at Wendy’s, Glenn Ezell said the new law will not make any difference to him.

After years of ordering the same crispy chicken sandwich three to four days a week, he isn’t going to stop ordering it.

“I don’t think you’re going to change unhealthy lifestyles, and for the restaurant business I would expect that this time next year everything will be the same,” Ezell said. “Fifty years ago you could have because there wasn’t a fast food place on every corner, but now there is and we’re talking about two or three generations of people who grew up eating this way.”

Over 200,000 chain restaurants across the country will be affected by this new legislation, creating a single national standard rather than the current local and state laws, which are in place in some areas such as New York City, Seattle and California.

The FDA will have one year to administer new rules, but it could take up to two years before you see calorie listings on all menus.

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