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Should nutrition information be included on menus in B.C.?

When you look up at the menu at your favourite fast food restaurant, should it tell you how many calories are in each item?

The Ontario Government  is expected to introduce legislation Monday that would require it in that province, and nutritionists say it should be done in B.C.

The Ontario legislation would require large chain restaurants to put calories and other nutritional information on their menus and menu boards. Obesity is a growing problem in Canada; the World Health Organization says between 48,000 and 66,000 Canadians die each year as a result of nutrition-related  heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Nutritionists say more information on menus might make people think twice about making unhealthy choices.

“The important thing to do is to look at the evidence we have for mandatory labeling systems in various areas of the United States for example,” said Kate Comeau from Dietitians of Canada. “And we see when the labeling is mandatory, that people tend to purchase less calories per transaction. Now that research is mixed, but it’s enough evidence for us to say this could be an interesting scenario in a Canadian context.”

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Health Minister Terry Lake said the province has an Informed Dining program and they feel this is the best approach.

“We are a government that doesn’t believe in heavy-handed regulation,” he said.

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