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Calorie counts and public health

(article, Culinate staff)

On his blog, Roots and Grubs, Culinate columnist Matthew Amster-Burton recently pondered the public-health effects of posting calorie counts in chain restaurants. As he reported, the King County public-health department is trying to track the effects of the postings on consumer behavior. But he's not sure how beneficial the whole program is going to be:

bq. I’m glad the carb and sodium information is available for people who need it. But the calorie counts bother me. Obviously they’re being posted in an effort to reduce obesity and its related syndromes. That’s a laudable goal. But there are some bad assumptions behind the posting of calorie counts.

bq. Bad assumption #1: Obesity is caused, in part, by people inadvertently consuming more calories than they thought they were.

bq. Bad assumption #2: Obesity can be treated or avoided by counting calories.