Press Release

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

May 15, 2009

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

“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.