May 15, 2009

Gillibrand: Nation Should Follow New York City's Lead, Require Nutrition Facts on all Chain Restaurant Menus

Assists Parents, Improves Child Nutrition, Cuts Costs of Chronic Diseases

Washington, D.C. - As part of a broad agenda to assist parents and improve child nutrition, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants the nation to follow New York City's lead and require nutrition facts on all chain restaurant menus.  The first New York Senator to serve on the Agriculture Committee in 40 years, Senator Gillibrand announced today that she is working with Chairman Tom Harkin and co-sponsoring the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act to require all restaurants with at least 20 locations to post nutrition facts on all menus, menu boards and drive through lanes.

"New York City has been at the forefront of innovation to reduce obesity and improve public health, and I believe the nation should follow our lead," said Senator Gillibrand. "As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I am working to combat child obesity and improve nutrition for all New Yorkers. I commend Chairman Harkin for his leadership on this issue. This commonsense legislation will give parents and other consumers the basic information they need to make good choices about their diet when they're eating out at restaurants."

New York City was the first to require restaurants to post this information for customers - an effective step that could stem the tide of obesity among children and adults.  More than 80 percent of people claim that having nutrition information positively influences their dietary choices. By co-sponsoring the MEAL Act, Senator Gillibrand is working to extend this effective measure to chain restaurants across the country.

Poor nutrition and bad health decisions can lead to diabetes and obesity - an epidemic sweeping across New York and the country. As of 2007, 25 percent of New York adults were obese - and the problem is getting worse. Obesity in New York has more than doubled among adults over the last 10 years and has tripled among children and adolescents over the past three decades. 

The costs associated with treating these types of conditions accounts for a large majority of America's skyrocketing health care costs - crippling the health of Americans and our economy.  As a country, we spend $117 billion to treat obesity-related illnesses - and $6 billion in New York alone.

That's why Senator Gillibrand is co-sponsoring the MEAL Act - commonsense legislation that requires restaurants nationwide with 20 locations or more to post nutrition facts, including calories, saturated fat, trans-fat, carbohydrates and sodium on all menus. Menu boards and drive through lanes would also be required to post the amount of calories for each item.