The Economic Perspective: “Counting Calories”

Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at counting calories.  Mike, since 2018 chain restaurants with 20 or more locations have had to provide calorie information of their meals to customers. The goal is for individuals to better understand how many calories they’re consuming in the hopes of reducing obesity.  Has the requirement been successful?


Mike:  Summary Answer

  • Recent study done on college campuses
  • Several interesting results
  • 60% of those who weren’t given the calorie information underestimated the number of calories consumed, some by as much as 50%
  • Still, when those receiving the calorie information were later asked how many calories they consumed, one-third underestimated their total calories consumed by an average of 430 calories
  • Bottom line – likely takes more than calorie information to control obesity
  • I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics