Ontario's doctors commend New Jersey for putting calories on the menu

TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - Ontario's doctors are congratulating New Jersey for signing legislation on Sunday that will require restaurants to post calories on menus and menu boards. The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) wants to see similar action from chain restaurants and school boards across Ontario.

"We are facing a growing obesity epidemic across the province, especially amongst children," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the OMA. "Caloric labelling on menus is a simple and effective way to help patients make healthier choices."

Just last week, Statistics Canada released a report showing that the fitness levels of Canadians have dropped since 1981. The report also found that nearly two-thirds of Canadian adults and more than a quarter of children are overweight or obese. Ontario's doctors point to caloric menu labelling as an innovative approach to help combat obesity.

The OMA has called for:

    -   Chain restaurants and school cafeterias to voluntarily post calorie
        counts on their menus and menu boards;
    -   The provincial government to enact menu board labelling legislation
        to ensure that consumers throughout the province have equal access to
        this information; and
    -   An education campaign to help inform Ontarians about the impact of
        caloric intake on weight gain and obesity.

According to information from the Center for Science and the Public Interest caloric menu labelling is gaining momentum south of the border. To date, over 25 states in the US have implemented, passed or introduced legislation requiring calories to be posted on menus and menu boards. In addition, menu board labelling is now included as part of the US federal health care reform bill.

In Ontario, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board became the first to take action on this initiative when it began displaying the calorie counts of all menu items this past September. In addition, 35 Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions of support the OMA's call for caloric menu labelling.

"The evidence is in. We need to take concrete action to ensure that the rate of obesity doesn't continue to rise," said Dr. Strasberg. "If patients are aware of the amount of calories in the foods they eat at restaurants and school cafeterias, they will be better positioned to make simple changes that could improve their health."

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

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