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Nutritional info may soon be included in restaurant menus

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By Hannah Torregoza

Counting your calorie intake? Ask the waiter first.

Customers may soon be able to avail of this extra service in fast food outlets and other food establishments, which could soon be compelled to disclose the nutritional information of the food they are selling under a new law.

Senator Leila de Lima has filed Senate Bill No. 1621, or the proposed Nutritional Information Disclosure Act of 2017, which she expects would benefit Filipinos wishing to live a healthy lifestyle.

De Lima said the over-all goal of the measure is to address the problems of obesity and improper nutrition among Filipinos as this bill mandates the disclosure of caloric and nutritional information in menus of food service establishments.

“Nutrient content information provided at the time of food selection in food service establishments would enable consumers to make more informed and healthier food choices, promote health awareness and proper dieting, and assist consumers who are monitoring their diets or dealing with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” de Lima said.

The proposed law covers food sold at salad bars, buffet lines, cafeterias or similar self-service facilities, like drive-thru restaurants, where calorie content information must be clearly and conspicuously displayed on their menus or menu boards.

Citing the Eighth National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2013, de Lima said three out of 10 or 31 percent of Filipino adults were overweight or obese. The percentage of adults with high waist circumference was rising, particularly among females.

The same report, she said, also showed that 22.3 percent of the adult population was considered hypertensive and hypertension prevalence tended to increase with wealth, and was slightly higher among rural versus urban residents.

Diabetes prevalence was at 5.4 percent.

The lawmaker pointed out weight gain occurs when more calories are consumed than are expended.

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