How is this for an interesting spin on calorie labeling?
“After students and parents raised concerns about displayed calorie counts leading to or worsening eating disorders, Harvard University Dining Services removed the index cards detailing nutritional information from dining halls this year,” CNN.com reports.
Interestingly, Harvard was going above and beyond, listing calorie, serving size, carbohydrate, and fat information for their dining hall menu options.
Although these values can still be found on the dining hall’s website, they are no longer displayed at the actual eating establishment.
This decision makes absolutely no sense to me.
I simply do not see the effectiveness of removing a public health information service that has the potential to benefit a large percentage of the student body because it can be harmful to a smaller contingent of individuals (although eating disorder rates in college campuses are high, we are certainly talking about less than half of the total population.)
Besides, people living with eating disorders are usually hyper aware of caloric content out of their own valition.
If anything, they are more likely to seek out that information online than someone with a passing interest in maybe, perhaps, somehow wanting to manage their weight more efficiently.
Someone struggling with anorexia is already following an extremely regimented and restrictive diet.
It is highly probable that they walk into a dining hall with a pre-established harsh caloric limit on their mind (rather than finding out as they stand in line that, oh, the sandwich they were thinking of getting adds up to 900 calories.)
Although “Dining Services will continue to promote healthy eating among students through forums and information sessions,” it is a shame that calorie displays will be eliminated.
If displaying actual numbers is out of the question, why not develop a color-coded range?
For instance, a yellow sticker next to an item signifies “0 – 200″ calories, a blue one signifies “200 – 400,” etc.
And if the administration is looking to convey an overall message of wellness rather than strict calorie counting, how about displaying health-promoting banners and signs throughout the dining hall (i.e.: “Whole wheat pasta is a great source of fiber,” “Olive oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats,” etc.)?
What is your opinion?