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Argument: Calorie counts incentivize healthier menus that attract new customers

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Supporting quotations

"Food regulation in America". The Economist. August 28th, 2008: "the new rules could also enable restaurants to attract customers, and reduce costs, by tweaking their menus. Many companies have already started to introduce new low-calorie items and serve smaller helpings. Starbucks, for example, has changed its “default” milk from whole milk to reduced-fat milk, cutting the calories in its drinks by 14%. (Reduced-fat milk also happens to be cheaper.) Dunkin’ Donuts has a new lower-calorie line called “DD Smart” that is designed to appeal to the health-conscious with such things as egg-white flatbreads and fruit smoothies. And McDonald’s has reduced the size of a helping of French fries, cutting the number of calories—and costs.

Le Pain Quotidien, a mid-range bakery chain with $165m in worldwide sales and 17 outlets in New York, thinks it has profited by adapting quickly to the new rules. Jack Moran, the company’s vice-president of branding, initially thought it was “frightening” that customers would be able to see the calories in everything on the menu. So he put together a team to overhaul the menu, cutting portions and eliminating items with lots of calories. This has proved, he says, a “strategic advantage” and boosted business. The company is now planning to provide calorie information voluntarily in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles—even though the local laws do not yet require it."

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