The New York City Health Department had a press release announcing their campaign in making the public aware of the number of calories individuals should have daily to maintain a healthy weight. Dubbed "Read ’em before you eat ’em" and with ads in NYC subways, the health department is trying to make aware how portion sizes have increased.
Recently California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar signed into law a proposal which requires restaurants operating more than 20 sites to have calorie counts posted on the menus by 2011, becoming the first state in the union to do so.
Will calories displayed prominently help consumers make wise decisions about their eating habits and decrease the numbers of individuals who are now overweight or obese? While both the NYC and California proposals are excellent (and note that the restaurant industry is fighting the NYC plan and yet seems on board with the California one), perhaps they could take it a step further and indicate how much activity it takes to burn off calories. After all, calories are simply numbers. To make people fully appreciate their caloric intake, illustrate how much time and what type of exercise would be needed to burn off a muffin or hamburger.
Since few of us have free time, if these groups showed us that we needed to exercise for four hours to maintain our weight, I'm sure most of us would be much more careful about how much we eat. After all, who has four hours to exercise everyday?