College Calorie Info Could Be Backfiring

From anorexics to obese students, information can spur 'disordered eating'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2009 7:36 PM CDT
A college dining hall.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Colleges that bombard students with calorie counts and similar information to discourage overeating—and the dreaded "freshman 15" pounds—may be causing bigger diet problems instead, reports Newsweek. Many schools are rethinking their strategy in the wake of rising numbers of eating disorders, and a growing sense that a simplistic focus on calories can backfire by stressing out already stressed students.

"Nutrition is not a simple thing that can be distilled down into a label," says one professor. Harvard recently removed cards with calorie counts from its dining room to develop a more nuanced approach to "the challenge a quiet and surprisingly large contingent of our community faces with eating disorders." Not all schools are following suit, but some are taking other approaches. Penn State, for instance, converted one dining hall to a "healthy dining hall," with no junk food and smaller portions.