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US Government Mandates Fast Food Nutrition Labeling

John Moore, Getty Images

In an effort to help people make more informed choices when eating away from home, the federal government is introducing mandatory nutrition labeling for fast food menus and vending machines.

Items sold at movie theaters are exempt, which is odd given what calorie bombs those snacks can be.

The problem is that few Americans pay much attention to the nutrition labeling on even the packaged foods brought into their homes.

“No matter how much information you give people, they still tend to make pretty poor choices pretty consistently,” said Nicholas Begley, a law professor at the University of Michigan.

Many people seem to fall victim to the averaging bias, which can lead them to believe a sandwich that comes with a vegetable is healthier even when the combined calories are in fact higher. Also, “organic” chips and cookies sound better for you than those that aren’t labeled as such.

While they may be ignored by some, prominently-displayed calorie counts would at least benefit those who are trying to eat better and simply haven’t had the information they needed to do so.

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