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American Opinion: On another benefit to health care reform

An excerpt from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

By The Associated Press

On another benefit to health care reform:

Figuring out which combo meals pack fewer calories at chain restaurants will be less of a guessing game because of a provision included in the new federal health care law.

The measure will require chains with at least 20 restaurants to list caloric counts for all their food items on menus and drive-through boards, except for daily specials and custom orders. The same data must be posted at vending machines and additional nutritional information must be available on request.

The National Restaurant Association, which has been facing a growing number of menu regulations in cities and states across the country, supported the new federal law as a way to set national standards.

Experts said it will take a few years for the industry and the federal Food and Drug Administration to come up with specific regulations, including how prominently the new data should be displayed. But nutritionists lauded the law as a good step for consumers who want to make more health-conscious choices, and they are right.

A city study in New York, where caloric data requirements went into effect in 2008, found that people who reported using the information purchased items with 106 fewer calories compared with consumers who did not use the data, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Other studies elsewhere have been less conclusive on the overall benefit of displaying nutritional information. But some consumer advocates and health experts said giving the public more information about what's in their food, together with other measures to improve health, will help people make choices.

That sounds about right.

-- The Times-Picayune,New Orleans