Argument: Customers are indifferent to calorie counts on menus
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Jacob Sullum. "Are you sure you want fries with that?" Reason. August 20, 2008: "Yet the desires that people express in polls are often at odds with the preferences they reveal in the marketplace. The restaurant business is highly competitive. If customers really were clamoring for conspicuous calorie counts, restaurants would provide them voluntarily. A legal requirement is necessary not because consumers want impossible-to-ignore nutritional information but because, by and large, they don't."
Steve Chapman. "Force-fed the facts". Reason. June 23, 2008: "Among the attributes that most people look for when they dine out, nutritional information is below tasty fare, reasonable prices, courteous service, pleasant surroundings, agreeable lighting, and free parking. It's probably tied with clean restrooms and free mints at the cashier's counter."
Ken Poulin, a consumer in New York said to USA Today in response to a 2008 New York law that required certain large restaurant chains in the city to list calories on their menus: "People are going to eat what they want; it doesn't matter what the menus say. People need to eat more vegetables and have common sense."
Jeff Jacoby. "Want a warning label with those fries?" The Boston Globe. January 11, 2009: "Obesity warriors want restaurants to be forced to publicize the nutritional content of the foods they sell so that consumers can make a reasoned decision about what to eat. 'People often really are not aware of what's sitting on their plate,' the director of Boston Medical Center's nutrition and weight management program, Dr. Caroline Apovian, told The Boston Globe. 'But if the information is sitting right in front of you . . . it's hard to deny'
Actually, not that hard. When it comes to nutrition as to so much else, human beings are quite adept at denying, ignoring, or discounting information they would rather not deal with. A 2006 study by researchers at the University of Vermont found that the more often one eats in fast-food restaurants, the less likely he is to pay attention to food labels. 'These . . . data suggest,' they concluded, that 'recent legislation advocating for greater labeling of restaurant food may not be particularly effective.'"