Does posting fast-food calorie counts matter?

To combat the nation’s obesity problem, officials in some jurisdictions have considered requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on their menus, saying that would help consumers make better decisions. Critics, on the other hand, say nobody orders a Big Mac thinking it’s a low-cal snack, and posting the numbers won’t help.

A new study says people who pay attention to the calorie counts posted at New York City fast-food outlets do take nutritional information into account when ordering, Devon Boen reports at Miller-McCune–but it’s a pretty small group.About one in six diners said they were influenced by the calorie count postings, and that group consumed fewer calories per order, the researchers found after studying New York restaurants before and after the city began requiring the posting of nutrition information. Some chains also say an overall reduction in average calorie consumption per order–but only if they added lower-calories choices to the menu.