A couple of times, I've noted that while I'm at least theoretically in favor of requiring calorie counts on menus, I was pretty skeptical that this was actually going to work. We've had nutritional labeling on products in the supermarket for decades, and this has not exerted any noticeable downward impact on peoples' waistlines. A fair number of people responded with, essentially, a "huh?" that implied that I must have access to better drugs than they do. (Not, alas, true.)
Now the first study of New York's labeling program is out, and the results are . . . nothing. A very moderate increase in calorie consumption that is probably just a statistical artifact.
There was never any very good evidence that labeling was going to work. Most of the arguments in support seemed to rely either on self reported data, or a gut check by a handful of already pretty slender bloggers--they were sure they'd pay attention to the calorie counts, and so why wouldn't everyone else? But personal hypotheticals are at best weak evidence, and self-report is even worse. This study found that a significant minority of people reported changing their behavior as a result of the calorie information, and ordering a lower-calorie meal. But when you looked at what they actually ordered, it was no less fattening than either longitudinal or latitudinal controls.