It’s becoming a common practice for states to mandate restaurants to post calorie counts for different menu items. The reasoning behind the idea rests on two points:
- Most people underestimate how many calories they’re consuming when they eat out.
- Seeing the calories listed next to the item will act as a “nudge” to choose the healthier item.
While these initiatives have had very mixed results, they recently encountered a new problem: the calorie counts aren’t very accurate.
A recent study by the American Medical Association studied the accuracy of listed calories and concluded this:
In the restaurants overall, 19 percent of the foods — almost one in five — contained at least 100 more calories than what the menu stated. Of these foods, the 10 percent of the foods with the highest excess calories averaged more than 250 extra calories per food. One food item even had 1,000 calories more than what was listed on the menu, according to Roberts.
The variations were highest in low-calorie foods.
Of course, if people just ignore the calorie counts in the first place, then it’s pretty much irrelevant……