New York became the first city in the country to require calorie counts on the menus of most fast-food restaurants, but seven years later, new research raises questions over whether the law is making a difference. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
New Yorkers still have an appetite for high-calorie foods, despite city efforts to get us to eat healthier.
"Sometimes, I don't care," said one New Yorker. "When I'm hungry, I just want to eat."
A new study by the NYU School of Medicine found that city-mandated calorie counts on the menus at places like KFC and McDonald's have little impact on what New Yorkers order.
The study compared the receipts of fast food customers in the city and in New Jersey, where there is no calorie count requirement, and found little difference in calorie consumption.
"I get what I want because it's usually a craving type of thing," said one New Yorker.
According to the study, only 9 percent of customers claimed to use the calorie information to order less fattening fare, and only one-third say they even notice the calorie information when they order.
Dr. Thomas Farley became Mayor Michael Bloomberg's health commissioner after the calorie law was passed. Despite the study's findings. he says calorie counts still are valuable.
"Obesity and diabetes are a public heath crisis. There are a lot of things we have to do address the crisis," Farley said. "The bare minimum we can do is provide people with basic information that those who are motivated can use to avoid gaining weight. That's what the calorie counts do."
Farley says discouraging people from consuming sugary drinks is another way to fight obesity. Bloomberg's push to ban large sodas failed during Farley's reign as commissioner. It's one of the health policies Farley touts in his new book, "Saving Gotham."
A national mandate takes effect next year requiring restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information. Farley says the national results will be similar to the city's. He says he's more encouraged by studies that show that restaurants displaying calorie counts offer healthier options more than those that don't provide the information.
"Having to put that calorie count up there is embarrassing to those restaurants, so they are cutting down on some of the sizes," Farley said.