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Families can make better choices with menu labels

Last year, the New York State Department of Health has launched the “iChoose” public education campaign to increase awareness and use of calorie information posted on chain restaurant menus.  Only two counties in the Capital District, Albany and Schenectady, have implemented the labeling laws that require fast-food and chain restaurant with more than 15 locations nationally to post the calories next to each item on the menu and menu boards.  Starting in this year, the calorie-posting laws extend to chain restaurants nationwide.  The new menu posting does not take the place of the nutritional information.  The purpose of the calorie labeling on the menu boards is to provide guidance for consumers to make an informed decision about what they order.

Obesity is a problem in adults and children.  One of every four adult New Yorkers is obese.  Obesity among children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades.  An estimated $7.6 billion is spent annually on adult obesity-related health problems in New York.  In New York, 80 percent of this cost is paid for by publicly funded health care programs.  Therefore, obesity costs each family in the state an additional $771 per year for public and private health care programs.

Obesity is a problem in adults and children.  One of every four adult New Yorkers is obese.  Obesity among children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades.  An estimated $7.6 billion is spent annually on adult obesity-related health problems in New York.

When people eat out, they eat more calories, fat and sodium, as well as less fiber and calcium and fewer fruits and vegetables.  The average American consumes about one-third of their calories eating out.  In 1970, Americans spent just 26 percent of their food dollars on prepared foods and restaurant meals outside their homes.  In 2006, almost half (48 percent) of our food dollars were spent on convenience and prepared foods – the majority at fast-food and chain restaurants.  Our fast-paced society has created an on-the-go lifestyle where eating out has become a part of the family routine.

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