Whats A Healthy Weight For A 13 Year Old Girl Is Ignorance Bliss or Would You Rather Know?

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Is Ignorance Bliss or Would You Rather Know?

What if the next time you opened the menu at your favorite restaurant, the nutritional information (calories, fat, sodium, etc.) was right there for you to consider? Would you still order Houston’s Grilled Chicken Salad (34 grams of fat) or Macaroni Baked Salmon (1160 calories, 25 grams of fat and 1240 mg of sodium!)? How about Chili’s Chocolate Melt Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (1270 calories and 62 grams of fat)? Are you surprised by these numbers? Or would you rather not know?

New labeling rules that went into effect this year require restaurants of the same name with 20 or more locations to provide nutritional information on their menus.

Why does the government think it is important for you to know? Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy food commissioner, cited “the severe obesity problem in this country that is caused in part by excess calorie intake outside the home.”

As most of us know, being overweight brings its own problems, such as increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer. In fact, obesity is on the verge of overtaking tobacco as the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.

Today, 63 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. If we continue to lose weight, obesity will cost the United States an estimated $344 billion in health-related costs by 2018.

Are you starting to see the domino effect here? weight, and more.

Obese patients spent an average of $1,429 (42%) more in annual medical costs than those of a healthy weight. Health economist Eric Finkelstein, co-author of “Obesity in America,” said health care costs won’t fall unless Americans “lose weight by improving their diet and exercise patterns.”

So will the new nutrition labeling requirements help? Advocates, including me, argue that if you know what’s in your food, you’re more likely to make better choices about what you put in your mouth, and therefore more likely to avoid obesity traps. However, many restaurants worry that if you know the nutritional truth, you won’t be coming back.

Houston’s, a popular restaurant chain with 30 locations across the US, apparently thinks you can’t take the truth. Instead of reprinting its menus to include nutritional information, the chain has changed its name. That’s right; Houston’s is renaming 11 of its locations under the new name Hillstone, giving up 34 years of brand equity in its name to circumvent the new law. That way, customers can continue to enjoy their spinach dip and ribs without having to worry about knowing how many calories are in them.

So I ask you again: Is ignorance bliss or would you rather know?

Maybe you think all this government interference is too much. But if it actually saves lives, not to mention millions (billions) of dollars for our taxpayers. Let’s look at two cases.

When seat-belt legislation went into effect in 1984, you may remember critics raging about the restrictions on our civil liberties. People are angry about the government telling us what to do in our own cars. Well, statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that seat belt legislation has reduced injuries in road crashes by 45% and deaths from crashes by 50%. For a country that can’t afford it, the annual medical costs from car accidents are about $11 billion, rising to $70 billion when lost productivity is factored in. Imagine what those costs would be without seat belt laws.

On the other hand, how effective is tobacco legislation? When cigarette advertising on television and radio was banned in 1970, about 50 percent of Americans smoked. Warning labels on cigarette packs first appeared 46 years ago, and yes, we’ve seen a steady decline in smoking over the past forty years. Today, 20 percent of Americans still smoke; while that’s still a lot, less than half smoked in the 70s. (FDA proposes new, larger warning labels—aimed to cover 50% of packaging. Do these have a greater impact on reducing smoking?)

But cigarettes and brownies are hardly the same…or are they the same? Sugar has also been shown to be highly addictive, and despite the “fun” image of sugary desserts, too much sugar can lead to serious health risks.

Maybe new menu labels will do real wonders; maybe food companies and restaurants—in the face of new labeling laws and informed consumers—will offer healthier options. Now that’s a reason to go out to dinner and celebrate.

what do you think?

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