Starbucks Will Post Calorie Counts In Stores Nationwide: Which Items Are Worse Than A Big Mac?

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 18, 2013 5:16 PM EDT

starbucks
Starbucks will post the calorie count of each item on its menus nationwide, beginning June 25. While the move is voluntary, the FDA is expected to require large chains to post calorie counts sometime this year. (Photo: Reuters)

Starbucks will post calorie counts at all of its 11,100 restaurants beginning June 25, the company said today.

The move comes ahead of a Food and Drug Administration requirement, expected to take effect by the end of the year, that all chains with 20 or more locations post calorie counts. Some states, such as New York and California, already require large chains to post calorie counts; a few chains, like McDonald's and Panera Bread Co, already post their calorie counts voluntarily.

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Starbucks says they hope that listing calorie counts will make customers opt for healthier customizations of their beverages, such as skim milk or sugar-free syrups.

In 2007, Starbucks made a nutrition rule that its new products couldn't be over 500 calories.

So how high do Starbucks products come in at, calorie-wise?

A 16-ounce latte has 190 calories. A cheese danish has a whopping 420 calories, roughly the same amount of calories as a McDonald's double cheeseburger. A venti peppermint white hot chocolate with whole milk and whipped cream, weighs in at 730 calories -- about a third of the normal suggested daily calorie intake. A venti Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino, with whole milk and whipped cream, has 530 calories -- just slightly less than a McDonald's Big Mac, which has 550 calories.

(Here's a chart of some of the worst Starbucks offenders.)

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says that posting calorie counts in restaurants is more important than ever, because Americans eat out more than they have in the past. Today, Americans consume about one-third of their daily calories outside of their homes.

"When people didn't eat out as much, it didn't matter as much," said Wootan. "But nutrition now matters in a way it didn't in the past."

Health experts aren't convinced the public posting of calorie counts does much. One study in New York City, where calorie counts are posted, showed that only one out of six customers took note of posted calorie counts and ordered something with fewer calories as a result.

In a recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial, two obesity experts argued that posting calorie counts doesn't do anything because consumers aren't sure how many calories they should be getting anyway.

"If customers don't understand what 250 calories means or how those calories fit into their overall daily dietary requirements," the editorial read, "posting that information on a menu may not be very useful. That difficulty may apply particularly to minority populations and those with low socioeconomic status, who are at highest risk for obesity and tend to have lower-than-average levels of nutritional literacy and numeracy, which may make it difficult for them to translate the information into interpretable equivalents."

In the video below, one gentleman pours an entire bottle of wine into the largest-sized Starbucks cup, the Trenta. At 916 ml, the Trenta can more than handle a standard 750 ml bottle of wine. The Trenta is even larger than the human stomach.

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