Playing the Numbers Game

McD-Big-MacIt’s dinnertime and you’re frantically scrambling to get your three kids under six years old fed before you have to get the oldest to his soccer game and the middle one to the barber.  You swing into McDonald’s, order, squeeze into a booth, divvy up a 20-piece McNuggets amongst your offspring, and then quickly shove the first meal of your day down your gullet.

What’s the last thing you’re thinking about during this manic mealtime?

Well, other than wondering if Kate Middleton is breastfeeding Prince George.

That’s right; calories.

Those numbers, which are now posted on many restaurant menus in an effort to inspire patrons to make better dietary choices, are largely being ignored.

Why is this breaking news?

A few days ago, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University published the results of a new study they conducted on the effects of chain restaurants’ calorie counts, and the world’s stomachs seemed to collectively growl.

The study polled more than 1,000 customers at two New York City McDonald’s locations and found that even though the Golden Arches clearly feature calorie counts on their menus most customers still consume way more of the recommended daily calories as they should.

According to researchers, it appears that no matter how much calorie information is featured on a restaurant’s menu, people still choose the food they like, not what’s supposed to be healthier.

I’m no fancy schmancy researcher at a prestigious institution of higher learning, but here’s my take on this numbers game:  You want people to eat healthier make it affordable for them to do so.

If you are a parent on a tight budget and you’re rushing around to get your children fed, it’s almost a given that you’re going to opt for the greasy double cheeseburgers off the Dollar Menu rather than a bunch of expensive chicken salads, regardless of how much better the greens would be for your kids’ health.

Frankly, the only numbers I look at on a fast food restaurant’s menu are the ones that tell me how much money I need to extract from my wallet.

I’m busy, I’m broke and I need to feed my kids.

Hence the McNuggets.

How often are you influenced by the posted calorie counts at chain restaurants?





This entry was posted in Health Concerns (See Also Health Blog) and tagged , , by Michele Cheplic. Bookmark the permalink.
Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.