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McDonald's Counts Calories On Its Menu

Grace Lim |
September 17, 2012 | 6:17 p.m. PDT

Contributing Writer

McDonald's menu panels displaying the calorie information of each item (Grace Lim / Neon Tommy)
McDonald's menu panels displaying the calorie information of each item (Grace Lim / Neon Tommy)
McDonald’s is trying to help you make healthier choices. Really. The fast food chain debuts a new item on its menus across the country starting this week: calorie counts, according to a press release.

President Jan Fields announced the change on Sept. 12 in support of the company’s efforts to help the public make better informed choices.

“The transparency and availability of nutrition information enables consumers to make choices,” said Judith C. Rodriguez, a registered dietitian (R.D.), in McDonald’s press release.

Some states like New York have already mandated calorie counts on all restaurant menus, but McDonald’s is taking it a step further by taking it nationwide.

“That sounds like a good idea,” says Gennie Kim, R.D., “because before you have to ask for it [as a pamphlet], and you have to go over all the menu items and the fine printing.”

Now the number of calories in each item is prominently featured right next to the name on the menu panels.

“It’s an excellent idea, well, because people need to know whether how much they’re eating, and quite often they’re just not aware of it,” says Diane Spurlock, an occasional McDonald’s customer.

One concern about the menu change may be that some patrons may not know what to do with the information. Will the average consumer know whether a 550 calorie Big Mac is too much or too little for their diet?

“They’re teaching it in schools now and young people would know,” says Kim. “It depends what population. I would say more educated people would know...low social economic groups wouldn’t know, and price would be important to them.”

Whether people can personally analyze this new nutrition information seems a moot point to most. The general consensus seems to be that adding calorie counts to McDonald’s menus is a good idea.

“People can finally see what they’re eating and what they’re putting into their bodies, and you know, not blame McDonald’s finally for their gaining weight,” says Alex Ortiz, with a McDonald’s takeout bag in hand. “Or maybe now they can blame McDonald’s for their gaining weight [laughs]. So I think it’s great.”

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