Ontario Puts Calories on Menus – But Will Consumers Know How to Use This Information?


According to media reports, the Ontario Government plans legislation to put calories on menus (at least in chain restaurants).

I have long argued for calories on menus. Not hidden in a confusing nutrition label with percentages and serving sizes and other complicated stuff that most people don’t understand. Just give me a number – even an approximation – a ball-park will do – round up or down to the next hundred for all I care.

No one is asking anyone to obsess about calories or pull out the scales and measuring cups – a couple of extra calories here and there are not the problem. This is not about turning people into bean counters – the goal is calorie awareness.

The problem exists when people underestimate calories by hundreds or even thousands – after all, like it or not, calories are the currency of weight management.

Will putting these number on menus prevent obesity? Of course not. There is enough research showing that most people have no clue as to what calories are or how many they need, let alone that caloric needs can change dramatically the moment they lose weight. But, some people do care and they (me included) will appreciate seeing these numbers.

Others will simply ignore them, after all, the key determinants of what people eat are taste, cost and convenience.

For those who care about calories, the legislation makes sense – but are these really the people who need this information the most?

For the many, who don’t really understand or care about calories, simply putting numbers on menus may do little.

For them, a calorie literacy campaign may well be in order.

What do you think about calories on menus? Very much appreciate your comments.

Edmonton, AB