How many calories does that cost?

panera calorie counts

It's hard to tell in the pic, but the counts are right next to the prices.

Fred emailed this week that the Panera on Washington Ave Ext has new menu boards up -- and they include calorie counts for all the items.

This is the first example we've seen locally of this kind of menu board tagging. It will soon be required of all chain restaurants in Albany County because of a bill that was passed last fall. The aim of the bill is to help people make healthier food choices.

New York City already has a similar measure in effect. The research on whether the calorie counts actually affect people's behavior is unclear. A study that looked at the question shortly after the law took effect found little change. A more recent study suggested the counts may have prompted people to consume fewer calories at Starbucks.

As it happens, the trio of women ahead us in the line today were having a discussion about how to they were going to spend their calorie allotment for lunch (they were trying to not go over 400). They seemed to be paying attention the counts. (Yep, one anecdote -- doesn't mean much.)

By the way: a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that many of the restaurant calorie counts it studied were... wrong.

(Thanks, Fred)


I'm really excited that this is starting to catch on. I actually find the way the counts are posted in NY are typically pretty unobtrusive - for the most part I don't even notice them. I generally don't think about calories, but I will admit that one morning at Starbucks I was planning to get a croissant for breakfast and switched to oatmeal when I saw the calorie counts (I was also planning on eating a lot that day so I figured i didn't need an 800 calories breakfast)

Ugh. I think the most horrific calorie count comes from the tuna salad at Panera.

You're like hey, I'll have fish! It's healthy! ..and the you realize it has 47 grams of fat.

Frame of reference... a McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese has only 42 grams of fat.

After working all day and only managing to have a coffee and trail mix bar, I was jonesing for Moe's and their yummy queso covered nachos. At up to 1700 calories for that dish, I determined it wasn't worth it and walked out the door.

My southwestern style home made salad of about 600 was so much more gratifying after that.

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