The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
18 Points

Posted Calorie Counts

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2011 Category: Health
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,270 times Debate No: 15888
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)




With the passing of the new laws on restaurants posting calorie counts, Americans could save hundreds or thousands of calories they would have otherwise consumed. It is projected that if the obesity rates keep rising, they will be at 42% by the time we reach 2050. It is absurd that we could let our country get so out of control when it comes to food consumption. And while there are complaints about the price of health food in our current economic state, once restaurants realize that their sales are on the decline due to their nutrition statistics, they will have no choice but to lower those prices. Obesity is the number one epidemic in our country that causes a number of other diseases to arise such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. It would be beneficial to us to post these calorie counts so we as consumers know what we're getting into when ordering food. And while many may still choose the more unhealthy thing on the menu, they have the choice of knowledge at their fingertips. And for those trying to lose weight who want to still eat out, these stats will help control what they are ordering. It is possible to raise a healthier America by allowing the posting of nutritional information in restaurants for consumers to see. Food is something that we need to fuel our bodies so we should be given the information necessary to fuel it in a proper manner and a proper amount if that is what we desire to do. These postings may also help those who are less knowledgable about the topic of nutrition which will ultimately benefit them in the future as well as saving the rest of the country money so we do not have to pay for their healthcare. There are not many downsides to posting calorie counts in popular restaurants for the sake of the consumer.


1. There is no evidence that posting calorie counts has any effect on obesity.

2. People eat to feel satisfied, not to achieve a calorie count.

3. Anyone who cares can buy a small printed book or a cell phone app that gives the calorie counts for all chain restaurant meals.

4. It's completely unreasonable that any business face 12 months in the slammer, or whatever, for miscalculating calories or failing to update counts for menu or portion size changes. The burden of regulation stifles business.

5. The Constitution lists the legitimate functions of the Federal government, and requiring calorie counts is not one of them, nor should it be.

6. Voluntary advocacy would be far more effective. For example, a consumer group could award a "healthy dining" logo for display by restaurants that voluntarily conform to a whole set of guidelines.

7. We cannot afford to employ federal agents to run around checking compliance, nor can we afford to prosecute offenders.

8. What's next: laws to brush your teeth, eat lots of fiber, and walk to work twice a week? They are all good things to do, but it is none of government's business to force them.

9. Anyone who needs to lose weight already knows they shouldn't be eating fast food hamburgers. If they are already in the restaurant, they are not going to be deterred by a list of calorie counts. Consider this place:

10. Anyone who cares can estimate calories well enough by themselves. Protein and carbs are 1800 calories per pound, fat is 4000 calories per pound. Water and air are zero. Sweetened soft drinks are all around 150 calories per 12 oz. That's it.

Dieting is all about motivation. Information on calories is not the obstacle.
Debate Round No. 1


While there is no direct evidence for the sake of having calorie counts posted, we can use other knowledge that having information does provide a direct effect on choices that people make. For example, once the correlation between smoking and cancer was discovered, cigarette sales dropped dramatically and smoking has still been on the decline since science has proven how terrible it is. Knowledge is a powerful weapon to provide. Satisfaction clearly has nothing to do with eating habits a majority of the time or we would not have an obesity epidemic along with the highest rates of restrictive eating disorders. Satisfaction only plays a minor role in eating habits. As for cell phone apps, while smart phones are popular, not everyone has the ability to get the app. Books are also in print but they may be expensive. What happens when a consumer cannot shell out the extra $15 for the book with nutrition facts, which may not even provide the numbers for everything on the menu. Those "healthy dining" restaurants also tend to be more expensive. What about eating on the run, or for the cheap? Many college students, particularly females, are concerned with how they look but are not okay with spending a lot of money on food. Prosecution was never part of the argument. The argument was about posting nutritional information so that consumers could make the best choices for themselves when it comes to dining options. Brushing teeth shows no direct correlation with any of the top diseases we face in our country. The government tries to provide the best information they can with the food pyramid but that does not always do its job. As for the obese eating hamburgers, they may not know exactly how detrimental what they are eating is to their health. Maybe they will cut it down from 3 hamburgers to 2 after being provided with such information. The more knowledge one is provided with, the more they have to work with. Calorie counts are just step one in helping overcome obesity.


The model that Pro advocates is that first the government should decide how you should live your life, and then they should undertake to nag, incentivise, and mandate what you do to conform to their vision of what is best. Health is good, but advocacy is best done by volunteers.

1. Some states and localities have required posting calories for some time. If they work, there should be ample evidence of it. Pro admits there is none.

2. There are diet pills, like phentermine, that work quite well, but only for a few months. They work by producing a feeling of satiety with less food. Calorie counting is not involved. There is a huge financial incentive to developing such drugs, so it seems inevitable that a safe drug will emerge to solve the obesity problem. the resolution doesn't work.

3. People cannot afford $8 for an amazon book? That's ridiculous. It would be much cheaper for government to give out free books than shift the burden to restaurants.

4. Rules without penalties are completely pointless, because it is cheaper to ignore them.

5. Pro did not respond. It's unconstitutional.

6. Pro says that voluntary advocacy is too expensive because it costs too much for restaurants to conform. It doesn't get any cheaper when the government mandates conformance, it just raises the food costs for everyone, even people who pay not attention. Pro seems to think obeying the government is free.

7. Pro says the rules won't be enforced, hence they are pointless.

8. There is no question that dental health is a major problem. Exercise is more important than calorie counting. All problems are not jobs for Big Brother.

There is nothing better known than that eating too much causes people to get fat. If they don't know, they won't figure it out from a calorie chart. The man who discovered smoking caused cancer was himself a smoker. He quit after his discovery. There is no such mystery with calories.

9, 10. Pro did not respond.
Debate Round No. 2


1. A length of a study of 10 months based on a Starbucks in New York city has shown a 6% decrease in calories consumed, which comes strictly from food consumption, not drinks.
2. If we're spending our money looking for the next miracle pill, we're wasting our time. The body is designed to consume and react to food. Some consumers take calories into account and try to lose weight a natural way. If someone is desperate enough for an artificial weight loss they can look to liposuction too but that doesn't attack the root of the problem.
3. Restaurants only need to post this information once within their establishment. Much cheaper that supplying those $8 books to 311,154,990 citizens.
4. To lower calorie counts restaurants can cut back on portion sizes, that could save their business money alone.
5. Whose to say it's unconstitutional? It seems like quite the fallacy to make such a claim.
6. Obeying the government is never free, nothing in this day and age is. How does the cost of food raise though? If the state is healthier it will see less of it's obesity epidemic, later causing less of a chance paying for health care and medicine.
7. Restaurants most likely won't send their actual dish to a lab either if they know it has 1400 calories when they are claiming it only has 400. These rules are usually made to be broken, but if it changes a few companies along the way, the change is worth it. It's a step, not the whole staircase.
8. It may be a problem but it doesn't even scratch the top 10 health epidemics within the US. Number one on that list is heart disease, a major cause of that: obesity. Children eat food all the time without ever looking at nutrition, they eventually grow up to become conscious of it. The same happens with the window of knowledge for adults.
9. Answered before.
10. Not everyone understands 4 calories vs. 9 calories per gram. Not common knowledge.


Jefferson wrote, "That government is best which nags us the most that we might all be better Puritans." No he didn't.

1. Most of the calories at Starbucks are from high-sugar drinks, so a study excluding drinks is at best doubtful. The study did not show a reduction in obesity. Dieters reducing calories in one meal or snack inevitably make them up later. Sumo wrestlers skip two meals per day entirely; it causes weight gain.

2. Existing diet pills work well by reducing cravings for food. The problem is the effect wears off in a few months; that will be fixed. Lipo is not for weight lost; it's appearance.

3. The only people who need government supplied books are those who (a) eat often at chain restaurants, (b) cannot afford $8, and (c) want them. That's about no one.

4. Pro proposes no penalty for not obeying the rules, therefore they will be ignored.

5. Pro did not respond with an enumerated Constitutional function of government that comprises forced calorie counting. Big Brother should take hike; it's good for his health.

6. Only 20% of restaurant costs are in food. Posting adds to the non-food costs, The enormous collective regulatory burden on industry discourages enterprise.

7. Pro says the rules won't be enforced. 280,000 restaurants are to recompute and post when they change menu items, typically four times a year. Changing ingredients or portion size also requires reposting. It'll be ignored if there is no enforcement. Pro says it is the first of many more steps to control your life. Indeed.

8. Exercise is more important than calories; Pro's principle is that anything good for you is a job for Big Brother. So next, drop and give me twenty.

9. People already know overeating makes them fat.

10. Virtually anyone could figure out calorie counts if they wanted to, they just don't want to.

Promoting good health is a good thing to do. It's just not a job for government. Listen to Arnold instead.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by dinokiller 7 years ago
Cliff stamp is one of the most biased voters ever, seriously.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
I don't think the twitter format worked too well for this debate, but it burdens both sides equally.

The Starbucks study was obviously defective because it didn't measure obesity, but I could not find the study itself to examine it in more detail. Claims of what it proved were made by a blogger. There are common errors made by social scientists to made studies come out with the results they want. They are not deliberately cheating, they make "corrections" until the result is "reasonable" -- meaning what they expected.

The Starbucks study spanned 10 months. "Dr Michael Smolensky, an expert in chronobiology (the study of the body's natural rhythms and cycles) at the University of Texas at Houston, says that people who live in countries that are cold in winter eat more than they do in warmer seasons: "Adults typically consume 6 to 7 per cent more calories in the winter." " So if they started the Starbucks in winter and then added the calorie posting near the tart of summer, a 6% decrease would naturally occur if the sign did not cause any change. No need to question that result. However, man other things change of time. The menu selections change --fewer hot drinks, more cold drinks -- so one might correct for the calorie content of the preferences. Perhaps the customer base changed -- college students go home in the summer. there might be a correction for that. The possible corrections are endless. what happens is that those doing the study find the "right" set of corrections for use with the data. If seen this happen in many studies, always producing the answer desired.
Posted by neopuff 7 years ago
Then she realizes lewis20 may not have been talking to her /smacks self/ Sorry for taking up comment space ;P
Posted by neopuff 7 years ago
Yes, or at least in areas of increased obesity problems. I realize the economic strain, so I don't want this to happen immediately or anything, just...eventually.
Posted by lewis20 7 years ago
So your position is that it should be the law that calories have to be posted?
Posted by neopuff 7 years ago
Please, no one take the con for this! Posted calorie counts should be required everywhere. Every time I go to NYC I know what I'm eating and I'd like to know at home, too c:
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by jewgirl 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: pro admitted that there was no evidence that posting calorie counts would even help, and he had no coherent reason why the government should be involved at all.
Vote Placed by DylanAsdale 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice job, Con. I must admit, you won my vote by effort, but you definitely won my heart with the humorous Thomas Jefferson quip =)
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Starbucks study was not properly refuted and supported Pro and refuted much of Con.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Roy won this easily; pro admitted that there was no evidence that posting calorie counts would even help, and he had no coherent reason why the government should be involved at all.