Nice BreakfastThe far reaching effects of the new health care bill are beginning to filter down to the consumer level.

The health care bill requires that restaurants with more than 20 locations display on the menu how many calories are in each food item.  This includes table, board and drive thru menus.

In a study done last year, by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, after NY began requiring nutritional information on menus, 15% of restaurant goers reported using the information.  Those who used the information reported purchasing items that averaged 105 calories less than those who reported not using the information.

Restaurant managers say they are concerned about ‘calorie shock’ when consumers first see how many calories are in the foods they are being served.  This may lead restaurants to serve food in smaller portions and/or provide lower calorie options.

It’s unclear exactly when the new law will go into effect.  The US  Food and Drug Administration is tasked with that decision.  It’s expected to be sometime in 2011. The regulations will also require restaurants to post how many calories are in items on salad bars, and vending machine operators will be required post calorie information about their products on the front of their vending machines.