On Saturday, March 27, 2010, DC Voices accompanied other MWPHA members to do monthly health education outreach in Anacostia and neighboring Prince George’s County. We had the opportunity to speak to local residents about the health reform bill, menu labeling and nutrition. In addition to asking questions about nutrition and fast food, people played our “Guess the Calories” quiz game, and were surprised with some of the answers about the calorie content of menu items at popular chain restaurants.
Everyone we spoke with was familiar with and excited about the recent health reform bill President Obama signed into law. While many people weren’t sure about the exact provisions within the bill, everyone felt positive about it. Not everyone knew about the menu-labeling mandate, so we were able to engage in a casual discussion about what this would mean in terms of health. Through our conversations, we discovered some people were not quite sure what a calorie was, or how many they should be consuming in a day. Of the people who had basic nutrition knowledge, only a few people said listing the calories did not matter to them personally because they would eat what they want. One man said he could eat the whole menu and not gain a pound, which prompted us to talk with him about some chronic diseases that can result from poor nutrition. When we asked if he would let his young son order something high in calories, he responded, that he would not. He would choose the food item lowest in calories. Most of the people were enthusiastic about knowing the caloric content of their food, and are hopeful it will help improve health.
Based on our experience talking with people in the metro DC community, we feel there should be a nutrition education campaign that accompanies this legislation. If people do not have understanding of what a calorie is, the provision will not be as effective as it could be. Everyone should have access not only to nutrition information of everything they are consuming, but also access to basic nutrition education so they can understand what it means to their health.
Coming soon: A DC Voices for MEAL Choices video featuring interviews with some of the people we spoke with at Eastover Plaza!