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Starbucks to Add Calorie Count Information

Update Date: Jun 19, 2013 01:53 PM EDT

In recent years, fast food restaurants and chains, such as McDonald's and Subway have provided consumers with nutritional information. By informing people about what they are putting in their bodies, health advocates and experts hope that people would make smarter choices and pick the healthier options between two products. Starbucks, the popular coffee chain that also sells baked goods, have decided to upgrade and provide people with calorie count. Starting next Tuesday, Starbucks lovers will see just how much calories they are drinking in.

This new program will affect over 11,000 Starbucks locations within the United States. The calories of coffee beverages, teas, and other drinks will be available next to the items on the menu boards. The calorie counts will also be written on the tags in front of pastries and baked good items.

"Menu labeling is yet another step to extend our commitment to wellness, ensuring out customers and partners [employees] have the information they need to make informed decisions and understand all the ways that they can customize their Starbucks beverages to be within their desired calorie range," Mary Wagner, the senior vice president of global research and development with the coffee chain had said in a news release.

Although health advocates and experts believe that nutritional labeling can curb obesity, there have been several contradicting findings. Some studies have found that people in general have been underestimating just how many calories they consume. Researchers believe that if people knew the amount of calories they ate every day, they might be more inclined to eat something healthier. However, in other studies, researchers found that nutritional counts that have already been in place in restaurants in some cities, such as New York City, did not have an effect on how many calories was consumed.

Other researchers argue that even though calorie counts could be helpful, people who do not focus on calories and do not know how to put them into some kind of context will not be affected by the calorie information.

"If customers don't understand what 250 calories means or how those calories fit into their overall daily dietary requirements, posting that information on a menu may not be very useful. That difficulty may apply particularly to minority populations and those with low socioeconomic status, who are at highest risk for obesity and tend to have lower-than-average levels of nutritional literacy and numeracy, which may make it difficult for them to translate the information into interpretable equivalents," two Johns Hopkins obesity experts wrote in a editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Even though there is no one way to prevent overconsumption and obesity, Starbucks is making progress by providing nutritional information. 

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