I came across this article on Twitter and thought it was a great idea, but of course there are plenty of people in Columbus that feel like it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to look into posting nutrition information on menus. As a matter of fact, I remember one of the comments mentioned something about free enterprise. I don’t know how that relates to restaurants participating in a voluntary program, but… okay. I’ll save that for another day.
So I started thinking about total wellness. According to the article, nutrition information on menus is a way to reduce obesity and as a secondary effect, reduce incidents of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a myriad of other health concerns ailing Columbus residents.
Let’s look at some general data. The article states that 75,000 people in Columbus, 7% of the total population, have diabetes. In addition, 60% of adults are overweight and 30% are considered obese. The diabetes rate among blacks is double that of their white counterparts. A related research study conducted in New Orleans and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine stated there are 2.4 fast-food restaurants per square mile in predominantly black neighborhoods versus 1.5 restaurants in predominantly white neighborhoods. The study also concluded that the link between fast food restaurants and black and low-income neighborhoods may contribute to obesity among these populations.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some low-income people take interest in the health and well-being of their families. And let’s consider for a moment that people in other income brackets would make better choices. Would you still buy a 1/4 lb. Single from Wendy’s on a regular basis knowing the sandwich alone was 470 calories and contained 21 grams of fat, 8 grams of it saturated (bad fat) and 1 gram trans fat (really bad fat)? Add a small fry and Diet Coke (snicker) and you’ve got an 810-calorie meal, more than 40% of the average 2,000-calorie diet. It’s close to 55% if you’re on a 1,500-calorie program.
Back to my holistic point though. If we reduce obesity-related issues of diabetes and high blood pressure in low-income people who are currently enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare health programs, we reduce our expenditures for publicly funded health care. If Ohio reduces its public health care expenditures, the federal government also saves since it reimburses states roughly 60% for services and 50% for administrative costs. Maybe that will satisfy the naysayers that think Mayor Coleman is trying to be Big Brother and thwarting free enterprise and capitalism.
Will there still be die hard people who Biggie size that 1/4 lb. Single with cheese meal? Sure. But for people like me who want to make better choices, restaurants that add nutrition information on their menus would be beneficial. And hey, it may even be a plus for business because maybe other people would start eating at those restaurants. There’s one for you free-market people.