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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 21:20 GMT
US Congress eyes fast-food laws

By David Bamford
BBC correspondent in Washington

The US Congress is to consider draft legislation that obliges fast-food restaurant chains to provide nutritional information on their menus.

The bill's sponsors say those who eat in restaurants should be able to make informed choices about what they eat.

Obesity in the US and around the world has reached epidemic proportions.

Almost two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increasing concern

For some years now, food producers have been obliged to print on their packets detailed material about the nutritional value of their products.

Overweight man
The WHO says global weight-related deaths may double over the next 20 years
Now - a group of Congress members - led by Democratic congresswoman Rosa DeLauro - are sponsoring a bill to be proposed on Monday that she says would impose the same obligations on the menus of fast food restaurants.

"I believe that people want to make wise choices about what they're eating to have a more healthy diet," she says.

"I also believe that they need information on which they can make those informed choices.

"They have that information today in supermarkets; what we need to do is to extend that nutrition labelling to... the chain restaurants, so that in fact we can help people to make that informed choice."

The proposed measures in the US come as concerns about the level of obesity, especially among children, have risen across the globe.

In Britain, the Food Standards Agency has warned that poor nutrition and lack of exercise means young people today on average are likely to live shorter lives than their parents - the first such reduction in more than a century.

The World Health Organization say that weight-related deaths globally are likely to double over the next 20 years.

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