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Menu labelling – would you like 90 minutes of walking with that?

The conversations about menu labelling continue. Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health supports mandatory menu labelling of calories and sodium, while some researchers wonder whether “physical activity equivalent” labelling is a more effective strategy.

McKeown urges the province to enact its own law, but if the province doesn’t do so by September, he plans to develop a Toronto-specific bylaw for chains with more than 15 restaurants. Critics say that calorie and sodium counts alone don’t allow consumers to make informed choices. A Diet Coke for example, has fewer calories than a glass of milk, while a bagel might have more sodium than a cookie.

Stephanie Jones, the Ontario VP of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association endorses British Columbia’s voluntary Informed Dining program, in which participating restaurants post nutrition information in a brochure or poster, rather than on the main menu.

And here’s another POV. Preliminary research shows that consumers may be more motivated to choose foods with fewer calories when restaurant menus show how much exercise is needed to burn off those calories. For example it would take 90 minutes of walking to burn off the calories in this hypothetical ham sandwich. It’s an interesting concept, indeed!

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