Hand people calorie information right before they eat at a fast food restaurant and they do what? Ignore it.
Remember my article from last Friday about people understimating the calories they had eaten at fast food restaurants? Do you also remember that I asked who is more to blame for this discrepancy, those restaurants or their visitors? One reader, Cindy, wrote the following comment:
Well both are guilty. Before I had my smart phone and my calorie counting app on my phone I believed what I was told in the advertisements. I figured they can’t tell me its healthy if its not. Didn’t Jared lose hundreds of pounds eating this food? Now I check my phone and I am constantly shocked at food that I know tastes like cardboard but is supposed to be good for me and find It is worse than a bag of chips.
Cindy’s approach makes a lot of sense: download a calorie app for your phone, and within seconds you get all the nutritional info you want. Someone, somewhere put it all together for you – a really useful application for smartphones that usually spend their time sending Facebook statuses or here-is-me-drunk pics via Instagram.
Of course, you still have to have understood how many calories are good for you, then go and download such an app, and finally get your phone out, start the app and locate your lunch in it after passing through the gates of
doom McD, Wendy’s and all the others.
Just Have A Look!
But few people use such an app. Of course, not everyone has a smartphone, and at least some of those who have don’t understand how installing apps works. There’s an excuse.
So what happens when you give people the info on a silver platter (pun intended)? For a while now, fast food restaurants in New York City have to post calorie information quite clearly on the menus, and last year two Carnegie Mellon researchers topped that calorie info assault off: they positioned themselves in two McDonald’s restaurants, handing people short leaflets about how many calories a person should consume per day and how many their lunch shouldn’t exceed.
Together with the caloric values the restaurants have to post on a per-item basis, this should have given people the total picture, shouldn’t it? But when Julie S. Downs and Jessica Wisdom, to name the brave souls, checked people’s receipts afterwards the effect was: zero. In fact, there even was a small, statistically non-significant tendency to actually eat more.
Oh, Woe Is Us!
What do you make of this? Does this mean that we are totally hopeless? That people who eat at McDonald’s are totally hopeless? Or that catching people at restaurants is too late in the obesity game? Did you ever make use of the calorie information at restaurants?
Picture courtesy of “Christopher“.