McDonald's To Post Calorie Info Nationwide

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 13 2012 12:41 PM

McDonald's To Post Calorie Info Nationwide

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Big Mac and french fries

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

McDonald's is going healthy. Well, not really, but sort of. The golden arches will still offer all your regular fast-food favorites, but as of next week you’ll know the full ramifications of shoveling that Big Mac down your throat.  

According to Bloomberg, the fast-food chain plans to respond to the claims that its food can lead to obesity by posting all the calorie counts of its products on menu boards throughout the United States. Craving a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese? That's 750 calories. Large fries with that? Add 500 calories. Medium strawberry shake?Another 700 calories. Yeah, on second thought, maybe you’re better off with a medium Sprite and its relatively paltry 210 calories.

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For followers of the "ignorance is bliss" method to binge eating, the emerging health consciousness of Mickey D’s probably seem a bit terrifying, but that's kind of the point. The chain’s decision is not without precedent or a track record of success. Since 2008, all New York City chain restaurants have been required to post their calorie counts. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the results have been tangible, leading New Yorkers to purchase fewer calories than their counterparts outside the city's limits.

While McDonald's has never actively hidden the nutritional information of its food, the assumption is that having it in plain sight might direct customers to healthier menu choices. In addition to the calorie counts, McDonald's will also begin offering healthier menu options such as egg white breakfast sandwiches and grilled Chicken McNuggets. The new additions are intended to go hand in hand with the existing "favorites under 400 calories" menu.

Though McDonald's is getting out ahead of the calorie counter curve, it is likely that they will soon have company. In fact, there is a mandate in the new health care law that may ultimately require chains with more than 20 restaurants to provide calorie info to its customers. That regulation is expected to go into effect sometime later this year.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate video blogger.

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