The coming calorie counts

A bit off-topic, but my favorite part of the insurance reform bill that I’ve actually read is a little-discussed section expanding calorie count information for chain restaurants (of twenty locations or more)and vending machines. At least I can understand it, and I suspect it will be helpful for many people who are trying to maintain a healthy weight. And I bet restaurants will begin offering lighter fare.

Marion Nestle blogged about it at Food Politics, but I thought my readers would like chapter and verse, as it were.

Section 2572 of the Affordable Health Care for America Act is sub-hed-ed “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants and of Articles of Food Sold from Vending Machines.” (Disclosure:, the source of the act linked, is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation and my employer, the Sunlight Foundation.)

The change is to Title 21, chapter 9, subchapter IV, § 343 (q)(5)(A)
(Cornell Universisty Law School site for the U.S. Code)

I’m glad to see this coming. (And so much for some profound thought.) But who’s lobbyist missed this provision?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. This post and your earlier one about the difficulties of not over-eating call to mind the business school axiom, “If it’s not measured, it’s not managed.”

  2. Lobbyist miss? Heck, Lobbyist’s inserted…try the National Vending Machine Association. Estimated cost to replace machines is $56 million. Somebody going to get rich refitting machinges. Somebody in Chicago….

  3. That is so strange that you mention this new law, because earlier this week I noticed that the twix in a vending machine I was shopping in had 250 calories marked in big print on it’s front, something I have never seen before on my favorite candy bar, and now wonder if they were just getting a jump on things with their label design. For those of us on weight watchers, if we are candy-philes we may have known that Twix was 5 points, and Rice Krispy treat only 4, so a slightly smarter choice. But for all dieters and those trying to make good choices on the go, I think that will be a big help!

    And in restaurants, it can be so difficult to get good nutrition info, and when you do it is often shocking! Such as the fact that most Jason’s deli sandwiches and salads are more points than I am really allowed for two meals, and same at most sit-down restaurants. I think this is wonderful and hope companies don’t find a way to get around it.

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