Why ‘Providing Information’ Is Never A Cure-All…

When Paul Venables, an IT consultant, last visited McDonald’s, he ordered a quarter pounder with cheese and large fries. Yesterday, he swapped the fries, at 460 calories, for a fruit bag at 42 calories, and held the cheese, knocking almost 500 calories from his meal.

An IT consultant needs to see the actual calorie count to know that cheese has lots, and fruit less than chips?

Mr Venables, 42, from Surrey, was inspired by McDonald’s decision to put calorie counts on menus at its 1,200 outlets from this week. “Obviously, some people won’t care, but I am concerned about the obesity problem in this country,” he said.

And you’re going to solve the ‘obesity problem’ in this country by cutting down on what you eat, are you?

I know we are expected to belief there’s such a thing as ‘passive eating’, but passive dieting is a new one!

While Steve Bridges, 44, from Guildford, was not influenced in his choice of meal – a 490-calorie Big Mac – he believes it will have an effect. “I eat healthily most of the time, and don’t normally eat in McDonald’s,” he said. “But it does make you more aware: it’s interesting to see the companies which have opted out.”

Is it? Who are they then?

Pizza Express, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, Nando’s, Caffe Nero and Costa are yet to join.

Good for them! I think I’ll eat there more often…

Edona Nurdini, 26, agreed that the decision to include calories would add to people’s awareness. “It also helps McDonald’s to recover their reputation because they’ve never been associated with health,” she said.

No, they’ve been associated with convenience food. That’s what they are. That’s what they do.

Of course, as we know, there can be unintended consequences.

Some people at McDonald’s in Cannon Street in central London yesterday were surprised that their lunches were not more calorific. Daniel Pryce, 25, who works in a law firm, chose a chicken sandwich (385 calories), small fries (230 calories) and Sprite zero (two calories). “I don’t come here that often, so I just eat whatever I want,” he said. “But eating a McDonald’s isn’t actually that bad.”

Heh! Whoever said it was?

Denniz Messi, 24, from Greece, said that even if the calorie counts were not sky high, it did not make McDonald’s healthy. “We all know this food is fattening, and not good for your health.”

Well, if you eat it to the exclusion of everything else, then yes. If you eat it as an occasional treat, then no.

And it’s not like Greek food is all that healthy, either, is it?

And there’s the problem with assuming that ‘providing information’ will help people to make an informed choice; a lot of people are ignorant, or unable to see past their own misconceptions.

And they will mostly be unable to see that the increased cost of supplying this information will be passed on to them.

14 comments for “Why ‘Providing Information’ Is Never A Cure-All…

  1. Patrick Harris
    September 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    As one who has never had a “mac” big or small, with or without cheese but who does eat fruit – who gives a tinkers cuss whether or not the food you eat is or isn’t fattening.
    Common sense tells us that if you eat for eating’s sake you’re gonna get fat, if you eat for eating’s sake and do not exercise in some way, you’re gonna get even fatter.
    Listing the calorific content of their wares won’t deter food junkies any more than listing the ills and evils of drug addiction will force druggies off the street.
    “Your fat” said one workmate to another, who replied, “tell me somthing I don’t know”.
    “OK” said the first workmate, “salad can be bought from most super markets and is low in calories”.

    • September 8, 2011 at 5:50 am

      Unfortunately, it seems ‘common sense’ is no longer common.

      I had a worried colleague tell me about an email advice someone had passed on, some nonsense about how much water you should drink a day, when you should drink it, etc.

      It contained the advice not to drink very cold water with your meal or it would ‘solidify’ the fats in the food you’d consumed and give you cancer… 🙄

      Yet, she was happy to believe it.

  2. September 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I’ll eat at MacDonald’s occasionally when I’m on the road. It’s quick and convenient – which is what they do. I don’t care about the calories and wouldn’t dream of checking.

    Much of my diet is self-cooked using basic ingredients, so the occasional Big Mac isn’t going to have any detrimental effect.

    How many calories do I eat in a day? I haven’t a clue and have no intention of working it out. I eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not. Seems to work okay.

    • September 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      and therein lies the truth about all these health scare stories. Whether foodstuffs contain fats, salt, sugars, calcium or whatever, if you consume one product to the exclusion of all other then it will have an effect.

      If it is part of a varied food intake, then it has no effect whatsoever, and the scare mongers, who lets face it are really all about changing our eating habits so manufacturers can create the demand for new product types on the shelves, can go take a running jump.

      This I have seen for myself in the US who are way ahead of us in this respect, where a supermarket now labels upto 15 combinations of frozen peas FFS, high salt, low salt, high calcium, low calcium, high calcium but low salt, low calcium but high salt etc etc.
      It all about corporate sales…

      • September 8, 2011 at 5:50 am


  3. September 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    “Obviously, some people won’t care, but I am concerned about the obesity problem in this country,” he said.

    But why is he concerned? Hasn’t he got anything else going on in his life?

  4. cuffleyburgers
    September 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I take your point fully about this issue and would absolutely not agree that the state should mandate calorie counts on restaurant menus.

    However, where restaurant owners opt to provide such i think it is a good idea.

    Like longrider I generally eat at home, making stuff from raw ingredients – on the rare occasions I eat out I would not necessarily prefer a restaurant with this “service” to one without, but if I found myself in McDonalds, (something I would travel many miles to avoid as I do not enjoy the food), I would refer to it and it may influence my choice (or may not, the key word is choice).

    I suspect a lot of people might think in the same way, especially people who are on the road a lot, don’t get the time to cook every night or do all the exercise they might wish to.

    And even home cooking is not without its dangers – my hens will eat anything including fag ends…!

    • September 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Fag-end chicken. Yum!

  5. dearieme
    September 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    We had a Domino’s pizza for the first time last week. And, non-coincidentally, for the last time.

  6. September 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Like others I only ever encounter McDonalds when in drink so their dreary calorie count will be of no account.
    As younglings we had a theory about why Greek/Italian/Spanish women were so beautiful until they suddenly got fat. We put it down to all that pasta which somehow got stored away until they suddenly exploded into balloon monster-women. Didn’t explain why their menfolk died off leaving them as wizened old crones dressed in black.

  7. September 8, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Anyone else see The Daily Mash on this?

    • September 8, 2011 at 5:51 am


  8. September 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    inspired by McDonald’s decision to put calorie counts on menus at its 1,200 outlets from this week

    In Russia, they did just that – all calories were listed on a glossy chart, available from one of those wall-mounted pamphlet racks if you wanted. We wanted and chose accordingly.

  9. Mike Perks
    September 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Re: Paul Venables fuitbag IT Consultant

    good luck with the diet Paul

Comments are closed.