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US Introduces Calorie Count Rules to Fight Obesity

FILE - Overweight woman sits on chair in Times Square, New York, May 8, 2012.

The U.S. government has announced sweeping rules that require chain restaurants and movie theaters across the country to post calorie counts on their menus.

An order by the Food and Drug Administration says all establishments that sell prepared foods, and have 20 or more locations, must post the calorie content of food and beverages "clearly and conspicuously'' on their menus, menu boards and displays. Companies have until a year from now to comply.

The FDA says Americans consume as many as one-third of their calories outside the home.

Many health experts believe that increasingly large portion sizes and unhealthy ingredients have been significant contributors to obesity in the United States.

FDA officials say the idea behind the new rules is that people may avoid eating a burger and fries if they add up the calories, and retailers may make their foods healthier to keep calorie counts down.

The menus and menu boards will tell diners that a 2,000-calorie diet is used as the basis for daily nutrition.

Additional nutritional information beyond calories, including sodium, fats, sugar and other items, must be available upon request.

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