California Chain Restaurants Will List Calories

A new law passed in California this week will require chain restaurants throughout the state to list calorie counts on menus and menu boards. While a similar measure went into effect in New York City this summer, this law will make California the first state in the nation to have such a requirement.


According to the new law, chains with at least 20 restaurants in California will be required to either post calorie counts on menus and indoor menu boards or provide customers with brochures listing nutrition facts (calories, fat, salt, and carbohydrate) starting July 1, 2009. Starting January 1, 2011, the restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

These requirements will affect over 17,000 restaurants. However, according to the National Council of Chain Restaurants, which opposed the bill, 80% of California restaurants will not be required to post calorie counts. The organization stated that the law discriminates against larger chains, and called for a uniform nationwide policy.

California State Senator Alex Padilla, who proposed the bill, said that it will empower customers to make “more informed, healthier choices” when eating out. The law was supported by the American Cancer Society and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

You can read about a similar measure undertaken in New York City in my previous blog entries “Proposed Trans Fat Ban and Calorie Listing Sparks Debate” and “Nation’s First Trans Fat Ban Approved.”

If you live in California, how do you feel about this new law? Do you think it will help you control your diabetes?

If you live in New York City, have you encountered calorie counts on menus recently? Have they affected your food choices?

Would you like to see measures like these go nationwide?

Share your thoughts on these topics with a comment below.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
About Our Experts >>

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Tara. This sounds like a good idea. Since the chain food menu is somewhat uniform this may work. They should not only list the calories but carbs, protein, total fat, saturated fat and fiber and sodium. After the financial debacle and the comming severe depression govt regulation will be IN and laissez-faire economics very OUT so it is unlikely that the Supreme court will overturn this. Not a chance that this could happen in canada. Our Conservative govt called an election quickly to try and win a majority before the economy collapses. Our Conservatives will win since we do not have a viable option and a minority govt results in paralysis..

  • This is GREAT! Diabetics every where have avoided fast food because of hiden calories, fat and Sodium. Now we can pick the right foods for us, and everyone else… People watching their weigh should love this too.

  • Berdine

    I do not live in california but I am a dietitian and a diabetic, Most if not all fast food chains have the information but not at point of sale or point of purchase. The idea is a great concept but it can be costly. If it is mandatory then it should be for all. Obviously it is easier for the chains and once they are done for California it can be used nation wide. The individual owner would have difficulty and it could be costly. There should be some provision for assistance in doing this for them either volunteers or monitary. If people see only the nutrition information at the chain stores then I think the conceot is that then are being promoted in a poitive and unfair light