Calorie counts to curb obesity? Fat chance!


Photo:indigoprime, flickr

OTTAWA—Health Minister Deb Matthews has announced legislation requiring fast food chains to display calorie and nutritional information on their menus and menu boards.  Officials hope the move will help the public make healthier choices when eating out.

A University of British Columbia study shows that Canada’s obesity rates have climbed to an all-time high.  In a province-by-province breakdown, 24% – 30% of the nation’s population is obese.  Those in the north are the fattest, while those on the west coast are merely big-boned.

Phil Jones, devoted McDonald’s eater, thinks the government should stay out of his business.  “I already got a wife to make me feel guilty about eating Big Macs. I don’t need numbers on a sign telling me how unhealthy I am.  I just want to get the extra value meal and gorge in my truck over lunch break, like any other Canadian.”

Snowbird June Avro said she appreciates knowing what she’s putting in her body. “When I was in Florida with my husband, we noticed that chain restaurants down south already show calories on their menus.  Now I make it a rule to order after my husband; as long as my total is less than his, I’m good.  My math skills are better than ever!”

One concern is that in the absence of context or education, these numbers can be confusing.  For example, a menu board may list several calorie totals for one item when counts are affected by choices the consumer makes.

Truck driver Don West believes he’s figured out a formula that will help him eat better.  “If I look at a menu and see that a sausage and egg sandwich with hash browns and coffee has 600 calories, and a bacon cheeseburger meal has 1090 calories, and a burger, fries and shake has 1660 calories…that’s 3350 calories in a day.  So now I know how much to eat.”*

Matthews also announced that a study is underway to assess using guidelines at government beer and wine stores.  “We feel that charts relating to weight and intoxication could help people consume more responsibly.”  Studying an example board, nearby teen Peter Lily exclaimed, “Dude, it’ll only take me two Molsons to get hosed!”

* The recommended maximum daily total for a sedentary 45-year-old man is 2400 calories.

Molly Donovan

Molly Donovan

I grew up in the USA, but don’t hold that against me because I’m also Canadian.

Just think of me as the mole.

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