Streams

Counting Calories

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cathy Nonas, director of the NYC Health Department's Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, discusses NYC's campaign to put calories front and center and how it's affecting consumer and retailer choices.

Guests:

Cathy Nonas

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Comments [18]

Rebecca from Brooklyn

I tried to call in to the show to talk about this on air but the segment was just ending. I think the law requiring chain restaurants to post calories contributes to the climate of paranoia around weight and food in this country. Even the New York Times has started to question our obsession with weight and the assumption that it is a good indicator of health: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/health/19well.html

Instead of hearing the same fear-mongering about obesity on wnyc, it would be really exciting to hear a piece taking a close look at what we think health means, or examining why we are so scared of fat. Here's a great example on prx: http://www.prx.org/pieces/27408
I know that's documentary, which is not the format of this show, but maybe it provides some ideas about what public radio could be talking about.

Nov. 03 2008 11:22 AM
Bradford Lawrence from State College, PA

The new food triangle needs to be stressed, the need of calorie intake is influenced by physical activity.

Calories are not necessarily bad. People are focused on the negative impacts of calories, calories have positives as well. In athletes they are needed to promote muscle growth, and recovery. Most athletes need to eat more than the suggested 2000 calories a day, elite swimmers and distance runners need at least 3500 calories a day.

Nov. 03 2008 11:07 AM
Marta from Brooklyn Heights

Frankly, a person in Ms. Nonas's position should know that, since calories are countable, one should alway say 'fewer' and NEVER 'less' calories! The same rule holds for those '10 items or fewer' lines at supermarkets. Here in the NE, I believe only Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are compliant.

Nov. 03 2008 11:04 AM
Jake from Manhattan

Regarding why only chain restaurants should be required to post calorie counts, 1) most obese people got that way from McDonald's, not Gramercy Tavern, and 2) figuring out the calorie count is difficult for one-off restaurants not only because they can't pay for the analysis but also because their menus can change frequently.

Unrelated point: these calorie counts are less useful when they are posted as sliding scales. Qdoba, for example, lists their burritos like this "300-750 calories" meaning that it depends on the toppings. I feel like most people won't bother to do the math.

Nov. 03 2008 11:03 AM
mc from manhattan

The Egg McMuffin may have only 300 something calories, but what's it's total cholesterol? Shouldn't food choice be based on multiple factors contributing to overall health?

Nov. 03 2008 11:02 AM
Deidre from Park Slope , Brooklyn

Do people really go into Chain Restaurants looking for food that's GOOD for them? I get the idea of keeping people informed but

I just don't believe that anyone thinks french fries or hamburgers or coffee with whipped cream, chocolate and milk are low in calories.

Going out to eat is supposed to be fun, a treat. Why would anyone want to count calories when I'm going out for dinner unless they're on a diet of some sort.

Everyone knows that a salad is good for you or a fruit plate, etc.

I mean at the end of the day, each individual is responsible for what they put in their mouth (regardless of what is offered to them)

Nov. 03 2008 10:59 AM
alex from BK

It's just a shame that quality healthy food is so expensive, especially here in the city. I just think that people should be more educated about the different types of fats and carbs that are actually beneficial to our health. I don't really calorie count since I'm very active, but I look at the quality of fat and carbs in food. More restaurants should stop using refined sugars and include more mono and polyunsaturated fat rich oils (esp poly).

Nov. 03 2008 10:58 AM
James from Manhattan

It should be a law at ALL restaurants. We know the price of the food, why not the calories?

Nov. 03 2008 10:57 AM
IRL from Hudson Heights

Movie Popcorn! 980 calories beFORE the butter substitute...
And then their is the scone at S-bucks - oy!

Nov. 03 2008 10:57 AM
Elisa from White Plains, NY

I wish this would happen in Westchester. I recently went to Uno's and decided to order an appetizer to get a smaller portion/lower calorie option. When I got home I went to the website and found that it my appetizer was over 1200 calories and found that almost any appetizer option was 1000 or more calories.

I hope calorie listings comes here soon!

Nov. 03 2008 10:57 AM
Caitlin from Brooklyn

My local Chipotle raised their prices the same day they put calorie counts on their menus- I wonder if they were expecting a drop in sales because of it?

Nov. 03 2008 10:56 AM
Allison from Brooklyn

Actually I was thrilled to see that at Ikea the meatball plate is lower in calories than the SALAD! By a huge amount. Great for me because I love the meatball plate!

Nov. 03 2008 10:54 AM
Denice from Brooklyn

I love having the calories posted on menus. I try to be health conscious but sometimes I get lazy when I'm tired or in a rush and will settle for anything when a calorie count isn't available. I feel like I'm making so many better choices now that this information is available in my most frequented chains.

Nov. 03 2008 10:54 AM
keith from hell's kitchen

I Love this law, however I find it slightly hypocritical to impose it only on "chain" restaurants. Why are their calorie counts less important?

Nov. 03 2008 10:54 AM
Gabriel from NYC, UWS

I love calorie count posting. Since I permanently try to gain some weight, it lets me see what's most calorious on the menu and explore those selections. I discovered some great melts and shakes this way!

Nov. 03 2008 10:54 AM
Catherine Koatz from Forest Hills, New York

I had seen the calories at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, but it really hit me the other night when my husband and I went to Pizzeria Uno (for the first time since the calories were posted). We found that it was an incredibly stressfull experience. ;-) All of these foods we normally would have ordered, including fish dishes, were all more than 1,000 calories each!! I was having such a hard time making a decision, that I suggested to our waitress that perhaps they should take a page from high-brow restaurants---instead of having menus without prices, they could give patrons the choice of a menu without calorie counts!!

Nov. 03 2008 10:53 AM
Carl Batchelder from Lindenhurst, NY

With all do respect to your guest, there are gaping holes in the science that supports the correlation between calories, exercise, and weight gain. Anyone discussing this should be required to read "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease", by Gary Taubes.

Research suggests that insulin ontributes more than we imagine to excess body fat. What’s more, eating refined carbohydrates seems to boost insulin levels, triggering the deposition of fat.

Nov. 03 2008 10:38 AM
Teal from Brooklyn

I'm no calorie counter, but recently I was in Penn Station far too early on a Sunday morning, and I made an impulsive turn towards the Cinnabon. The pecan-abon sounded really tantalizing until I looked up and saw that it had 1,120 calories! I was instantly snapped out of my early morning cinnamon sugar trance and kept walking.

Nov. 03 2008 10:29 AM

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