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Nutrition Info on Menus: Coming Soon?

Calorie, Fat, Sodium Content May Appear on Fast Food, Restaurant Menus

20 Zillion Fat Grams Served continued...

Other staggering calorie counts from the CSPI:

  • Large caffe mocha with whole milk: 430 calories
  • Large caffe latte with skim milk: 170 calories
  • Three slices pepperoni pizza: 900 calories
  • Five breadsticks: 800 calories
  • Mushroom cheeseburger: 1,490 calories
  • Hamburger and onion rings: 1,550 calories
  • Fries: 600 calories
  • Chicken fingers: 1,640 calories
  • Stuffed potato skins: 1,260 calories
  • Movie theater popcorn, medium size, without butter: 900 calories
  • Cinnabon Classic: 670 calories

"If chain restaurants can provide nutrition information on web sites, they can put calorie numbers on their menus," Wootan says. "For nutrition information to be useful, it needs to be at the point of decision making. Few fast-food consumers want to lose their place in line to squint at a hard-to-read poster."

Over the last eight months, six states -- California, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas -- and the District of Columbia have introduced bills to require nutrition information in fast food chain restaurants.

Experts Weigh In

Nutritionists, of course, love this legislation -- but it may need some editing, says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

"Too much information can be a little overwhelming for people," Bonci tells WebMD. "You need to give them options, teach them how to make better decisions. Give them 'Door Number One,' 'Door Number Two,' and 'Door Number Three' -- and the facts to back it up. Order that burger but get a smaller drink. Those are things people don't think of."

"If people saw how many calories were in that portion of fettuccine, or in the endless bowls of pasta, they may think twice," says Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences and professor of nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

"I think people are either clueless about calories or in denial," she tells WebMD.

Her suggestion: A little kiosk in the restaurant could "house" the nutrition information, rather than having it on the menu, says Rosenbloom. "There are many ways to make it available. People who don't want to know wouldn't have to go to the kiosk."

If you're still not convinced, consider how much time the CSPI says it takes for an average-size woman to work off those fast foods:

  • Quarter-Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal (1,550 calories) = running more than two hours
  • Cheese fries with ranch dressing (3,010 calories) = nearly 11 hours of brisk walking
  • A 20-ounce Coke = nearly an hour of biking

Still hungry for fast food?

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