Counting Calories

Ryan Sager's latest column turns a skeptical eye to one element of the health care law, calorie counts on restaurant menus:

One of the main findings of research into how and why we eat is that we’re very good at coming up with excuses to eat more. Exercised today? You’re entitled to another helping of cake. The food you’re eating is labeled “low fat”? Time to wolf down 10 more of whatever it is. Your favorite fast-food place has introduced a salad? A study last year in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that when you see a salad on the menu, you give yourself license to get something more indulgent.

His bottom line:

There are probably nudges that could reduce how much people eat in fact, there certainly are but they’d be much more intrusive. And that’s just thinking about restaurants. People may still overcompensate when they get home. Some problems are surprisingly easy. So far, it doesn’t look like nationwide obesity is one of them.