by Stephanie Linakis, MS
Cookies, candy, breakfast cereal, and ice cream may be sweet, but they aren't the largest source of daily calories for adults and kids. That honor goes to sugar-sweetened beverages.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, or SSBs, are at the center of much debate in obesity research these days. More and more studies support an association between SSB consumption and heightened caloric intake, weight gain, obesity and a number of other poor health outcomes among people of all ages. And it’s not just soda. Other carbonated soft drinks, juice, sport and energy drinks, sweetened milk, tea, and coffee, and other beverages where any type of sugar has been added stand colorfully side by side in the suspect lineup.
A colleague and I recently wrote a JAMA commentary that revisited the arguments in favor of menu labeling. People eat large calorie meals when dining at restaurants, and they often don’t know how many calories they are consuming. Calorie labeling provides immediately accessible calorie information at the moment when customers are making decisions. Also, calorie labeling might prompt restaurants to reduce the calories in items, especially those with the most egregious calorie counts (check out Dave’s Hot and Juicy ¾ pounder at Wendy’s or the 12 inch Big Hot Pastrami at Subway, both coming in at over 1000 calories, even before the sides are added on).