La Seule Femme: McDonald’s calorie count won’t make significant impact - lsureveille.com: Opinion

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La Seule Femme: McDonald’s calorie count won’t make significant impact

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:01 pm | Updated: 12:21 am, Wed Sep 19, 2012.

As McDonald’s embraces some new changes, many other national fast food chains aren’t lovin’ it.

Following the Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obama’s healthcare law requiring national restaurants with at least 20 locations to post their calorie counts, McDonald’s U.S. President Jan Fields announced that all nationwide McDonald’s restaurants have posted the calories of their menu items on the menu boards and drive-thrus as of Monday.

But the question remains: Will the addition of calorie counts alter consumer habits? I doubt we’ll see significant changes in a state that loves food as much as Louisiana.

Although the healthcare law has not yet gone into effect, other fast food restaurants will likely feel obligated to follow in McDonald’s footsteps, and while it’s good to see the chain stepping up to inform customers on the nutritional facts of their food, the food remains unquestionably unhealthy.

The world’s largest hamburger chain has made attempts to offer the public healthier options with the inclusion of the “Favorites Under 400,” which lists several items on the menu with fewer than 400 calories. 

But a combination of these items still adds up to a high-calorie meal. For example, a classic combo includes a cheeseburger at 300 calories, a carton of medium French fries at 380 calories and a large Coca-Cola at 310 calories. 

You would assume most people would begin to change their eating habits with information like this available to the public, but according to the New York Times, a study at Stanford University found that the addition of calorie counts created little change in the behavior of customers.

Fast food is infamous for its connection to obesity, and fast food frequenters go to McDonald’s because they want that fatty burger and fries, which can be viewed as a treat.

After an eight-hour day at work, the convenience of fast food is undeniable, and despite the study’s results, some will opt out of their usual Angus bacon and cheeseburger — which now will be unable to deny its 790 calorie deliciousness — for a healthier option.  

You are what you eat, though, and those people will continue to eat what they please whether the calories are posted or not.

Louisiana is a perfect example. It was named the fifth fattest state in the country in 2011 with the adult obesity rate at 31.67 percent, according to a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Obesity is becoming an ever-growing epidemic in the state and country, and fast food restaurants play a major role in the blame game.

But I didn’t always think that way. Since I can remember, there have always been warnings against the excessive consumption of fast food, but until I was about 16, I never contemplated the importance of a well-balanced diet.

In my high school nutrition class, we were assigned to watch the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me” by Morgan Spurlock, which exposed the dramatic truth about fast food.

Spurlock ate McDonalds every day for a 30-day period in the documentary despite protests from his vegan wife.

At the end of the experiment, he gained nearly 25 pounds and a 13 percent body mass increase.

A few years ago, Taco Bell, another favorite among college students, introduced its diet “Fresco” menu, but the Taco Bell in the 459 Commons doesn’t offer this healthier version in its limited selection.

However, LSU Dining has taken a big step to enlighten students about food selection on campus.

LSU Dining’s website includes the menus and nutritional facts of almost all the on-campus dining options to accommodate students who are interested in counting calories.

So while the addition of McDonald’s calorie counts is a move in the right direction, the fast food industry could use a drastic makeover in creating this classic all-American food.

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