McDonald's Posts Calories: What's the Reaction?

This week, McDonald's will post calories on all menus nationwide. The company is acting ahead of the federal requirement, which is part of the health care bill upheld by the Supreme Court. No definitive direction or timeline has been established, so McDonald's is taking the initiative and possibly leading the way for other large chains.

In an interview with NPR, McDonald's President Jan Fields explains the decision: "We're voluntarily taking a lead in this area because we feel it's important to do this for our customers." However, critics say that this is more of a PR move for the company than a focus on public health. A representative for a food watchdog group, Sara Deon, said of McDonald's food choices, "Offering a healthier option in the Happy Meal doesn't put an end to the marketing that's directed at children. The healthier options overall are little more than a vehicle for selling more of McDonald's bread and butter - burgers, fries, and soda."

The Wall Street Journal tallied people's reactions online in this infographic:

McDonald's Calories

Research about the whether posting calories affects people's choices seems to be mixed. In a Stanford University study, people reduced their calorie orders by only 6% at Starbucks after the company posted the information on its menu (although people who ordered 250 calories of food or more reduced their orders by 26%). Jan Fields admits that the effect may be minimal, but she told The New York Times that people liked having the information and that "This is all still very new."

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of posting calories on menus. Do you think this will affect consumers' choices?
  • Based on the reactions so far, is this a smart decision for McDonald's?