Calorie warnings on NYC subway ads: A good thing or a bad thing?

Riding the New York City Subway is much like riding in an elevator multiple times a day for long stretches of time. There's a delicate balance of where to look, and usually it's up or at vacant spots on the wall, which creates a sort of anti-social-tipsy-zombie like commuter population. And that behavior is heavenly to advertisers.

I've become sort of immune to the ads for gum, beer and whiskey that fill my commute, but yesterday something else was staring at me from the walls of this home-away-from-home of mine: Food. Calories. Warnings.

New York City is spending $82,000 this year to wag a giant finger at all of us. The food laden subway ads basically say that adults should eat at most 2,000 calories a day, and then show some popular fast food and how many calories it has. Like a big pretty muffin for 470 calories. Do you really want that ooey-gooey, pastry like goodness to be a quarter of your caloric intake for the day. Mayhap, I do. Another ad features two competing sandwiches (man, Subway--of the eat fresh variety, not of the choooo-choooo variety-- must love all this free advertising), another has a 1,200 calorie burrito.

Should restaurants be required to list calories on their menus?


None of this really bothers me. I'm not particularly indignant about such things, and in the grand scheme of city budgeting, the advertising is not costing me as a tax payer all that much. I do however know how many calories I should be eating (and it's less than 2,000 calories based on my height and gender), and now that NYC mandates chain restaurants to post calorie counts, I can no longer pretend that Chipolte is all sorts of healthy, just because it's made right before my eyes. Thank you, New York City, for bursting my bubble. I do however think this is somewhat funny. I imagine CEOs at all the major fast food chains with rotating heads and pea soup spewing from their mouths screaming all sorts of profanities about this beloved city of mine. I also wonder just how ignorant New York City health officials think we all are. Most of us, having grown up in, oh, the world, know that food has calories, and pretty much every food with a box, can, or bag has a little asterisk that says: *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Which to me says 2,000 calories is about average. I am curious if this will make any difference in New Yorkers' eating habits. What I've heard from most of my cohorts is that although we were all sort of supportive of the calorie postings in restaurants, none of us really take it into consideration while we're out anyway. I eat fast food very rarely, but am more concerned that these ads are just going to make me hungry. I mean that burrito did look kind of good. And that muffin, that's not so bad, right? I think this may have the potential for backfire. How would you feel about posters with food that told you not to eat it staring you down on your way to work everyday?

Related: Find out if real women have changed their eating habits because of calorie disclosure on menus.


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[photo credit: Getty Images]