House Member Introduces Bill To Require Chains To List Calories
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to list caloric, trans fat, saturated fat and sodium information next to each item on menus or menu boards, the Washington Times reports. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is expected to soon introduce a similar measure, which will also include a provision requiring that nutritional labels be posted on the exterior of vending machines. DeLauro said that her bill, the Menu Education and Labeling Act, is necessary to help "cur[b] soaring obesity rates" among U.S. adults, adding that "customers need to see information at the cash register to make an informed decision," the Times reports. Harkin, noting that the average supersized fries has 610 calories compared with 210 calories in the average small-size fries, said, "So many people are getting suckered into these supersized gimmicks because they are led to believe that bigger is better value. But if you continue to choose supersized, the odds are you will be supersized." However, Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said that while processed foods are made in standard sizes and ingredients, chefs in restaurant kitchens "often take greater liberties" with meals and are "constantly introducing new items," the Times reports. The bills would "hit the fine-dining establishments the hardest because they offer a less-standardized product," Anderson said (Higgins, Washington Times, 11/6).
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday examined how lawmakers and federal officials are "wrestling with not only policy decisions [about obesity] but their own appearance and whether it undercuts" their message to constituents to eat healthily and lose weight. According to the Journal, "It's a rare case where a politician's personal shortcomings are so visibly on public display, making it hard for leaders to exhort voters to do better without showing some effort themselves." The Journal reports that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft (R) have all begun diet and workout programs in order to lose weight and encourage others to do the same. Many public officials are using their diet and exercise routines as a "visible way to take symbolic action at a time when tight budgets leave little money for public health campaigns," according to the Journal. However, the Journal reports that it is "unclear whether personal exhortations, backed up with public displays of self-discipline, will make a dent in the nation's weight problem." In addition, some politicians are "wary of attacking big waistlines with big government" and advocate personal responsibility, the Journal reports (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 11/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.