Some restaurants should be legally required to post calorie and other nutritional facts on their menus, Canadian fitness industry members say.
The Fitness Industry Council of Canada lobbied politicians on Parliament Hill Tuesday to require restaurants with 10 or more locations to be more transparent about nutritional content.
The call for legislation was based on the Centre for Science in the Public Interest's report Writing on the Wall. The authors analyzed the impact restaurants have on public health based on calorie and sodium totals.
MenuTruth.ca aims to influence eating habits through education. It's assumed that if enough people change their meal preferences then there will be a public health payoff.
The CSPI found many menu offerings contained two and three times the recommended daily calorie and sodium quantities an adult should ingest, with some dishes having up to two days worth of sodium in one serving.
Should calorie counts be on the menu? Take our poll.
The group argued that requesting nutritional brochures or researching meal options online ahead of time is impractical.
In the U.S., some cities and states including New York City and California have passed laws on calorie labelling and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed similar legislation.
In February, researchers in New York concluded that calorie listings on fast-food restaurant menus meet federal labeling requirements but it's still difficult for consumers to interpret meals designed to serve more than one person.
Previous studies suggested consumers are generally unaware or inaccurately estimate how many calories are in restaurant foods.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban large sugary drinks from eateries also goes to that city's board of health today.