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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1420 into law, requiring restaurant chains over a certain size (20 or more locations) to clearly display on the outside of restaurants and on menus calorie and fat content for their customers.
According to the California Department of Public Health, state residents have gained 360 million pounds over the last decade and it appears that nearly one-third of young children and nearly 25% of teens are overweight or in the danger category for obesity-related illnesses. Obesity-related problems have quickly become the second-leading cause of death in California—second only to tobacco-related deaths.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, obesity now costs the United States more than $92 million each year in medical costs.
“This legislation will help Californians make more informed, healthier choices by making calorie information easily accessible at thousands of restaurants throughout our state,” Gov. Schwarzenegger stated (ibid.).
State Senator Alex Padilla from Los Angeles, who sponsored the bill, echoed the governor’s sentiments. “It’s tough to eat better,” he said, “without information to make the best decisions” (San Luis Obispo Tribune).
By posting nutritional information, consumers may re-think their choices when eating in restaurants. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said that once chain restaurants begin posting calorie content, competitive pressures will grow for other facilities to join in, and for healthier foods to be offered (ibid.).