In an article dripping with Mockingbird insights, a study of New York City found that posting calorie counts at restaurants does not change people’s eating habits. In fact, the survey found that eating habit were made worse by the calorie postings. The article says that “For customers in New York City, orders had a mean of 846 calories after the labeling law took effect. Before the law took effect, it was 825 calories.” Knowing the right facts enough to change people’s desire for tasty grease and sugar. Many of the respondents that were interviewed acknowledged the intense pressure to eat healthier, but defiantly rebelled against this expectation. One woman said, “I don’t really care too much. I know I shouldn’t, ’cause I’m too big already.”
Theologically speaking, this is yet another instance that validates St. Paul’s insight that “the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” (Romans 7:10-11). Sorry G.I. Joe, but knowing is not half the battle.
Even more interesting is the fact that 25% of those surveyed believed that the calorie postings led them to make healthier choices! As one analyst said, “Just by contemplating healthier choices, they feel like they could have done it and maybe they will the next time.” Truly, the law of calorie postings has deceived people into believing that they were eating healthier, when in reality they ate worse than before. Calorie postings guilt us into feeling worse – which can cause us to eat more. The pressure of expectation and judgment is too much to bear. Or calorie postings deceptively assure us that we are already eating well. We might order the salad, but we hypocritically “splurge” on dessert. Either way, the law has unconsciously stirred our sinful selves into action, making life worse in the process.