Are We Getting TMI About the Food We Order?

Walk into a restaurant these days and you might be able to check the calorie count of your enchilada, the salt content of your fries, the “heart healthy” status of your asiago peppercorn steak and — in at least one pioneering place — the carbon footprint of your vegetable lasagna.

Welcome to the era of the menu as a spreadsheet.

More restaurants, either by mandate or by choice, are bombarding diners with calorie counts and other information. The disclosures on menus, menu boards and pamphlets are a victory for health advocates who believe informed consumers will make better food choices.

But the profusion of numbers makes one wonder: Is it possible to give diners too much information about their food?

“At some point, having too much information might actually hurt, because it may start to confuse,” says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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