The menu and menu board labeling requirement was part of healthcare reform's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed one year ago. It takes the guesswork out of ordering meals in restaurants by providing calorie information.
Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit health advocacy group in Washington, says the proposed rules released Friday are expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
"A number of things contribute to obesity, but studies show that eating out is linked to higher calorie intakes and higher body weights," Wootan says in a statement. "Without nutrition information, how are people supposed to know that some salads have more calories than some burgers? Or that some 'appetizers' pack 1,000 or more calories?"
Wooten says the CSPI is disappointed the regulations exclude movie theaters, airplanes and bowling alleys because their main business is not selling food.
"If a movie theater is going to serve up 1,000-calorie tubs of popcorn, 400-calorie drinks and 400-calorie boxes of candy, the least they could do is tell you about it," Wootan adds. "Also, it will be confusing to customers if soft drinks are labeled on menus, but alcoholic drinks like beer and wine aren't."