This time next year, all U.S. restaurants with 20 or more locations will be legally required to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards, according to a Reuters report. The requirement comes as part of the Affordable Care Act and will go into effect May 5, 2017. The previous deadline for restaurants to implement this was December 2016, so the new date gives chains an extra five months to get on board.
The Food and Drug Administration announced its calorie-count mandate in 2014, but efforts to institute the rule were stymied by lobbyists for big restaurant chains such as Domino's, as well as wine companies. Some chains, including Subway, have preemptively added calorie counts to their menus in the interim. (McDonald’s was ahead of the curve, adding calories to its menu boards way back in 2012.)
Even beverages will not be spared by the new rule, which includes beer and wine. Proponents of menu-labeling say it will help consumers make more informed choices about what they eat, though studies haven't exactly proven that to be true. Just last year, two studies indicated that displaying calorie counts doesn't necessarily affect what people order — but it may influence restaurants to offer lower-calorie foods.
Earlier this year, the UK's Royal Society of Public Health proposed a new labeling system that would pair calorie counts on purchased foods with the amount of exercise required to burn those calories off. American researchers have suggested similar measures, arguing that listing the hours of exercise needed to burn off a bacon cheeseburger and fries could be more persuasive than simply including calorie counts.