How new restaurant regulations could help you watch your weight

NOW: How new restaurant regulations could help you watch your weight

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some local restaurants will be making big changes to their menus. 

Colectivo Coffee is just one of the many places listing calories on their menus.

"It's so helpful. I mean, even if you feel like bakery and you just want to splurge," said customer Mary Kriofske.

"Having the calories on the menus gives the consumer more power over their diet and that's a very important part of staying healthy," said customer Sarah Wright.

Research finds that people typically consume 20 to 40% more calories in restaurants compared with what they'd eat at home. Colectivo Coffee started displaying calorie counts a year ago with positive feedback.

"We're in an information age and customers are expecting to know everything whether it's what's going in their food to simple things like calories," said Scott Schwebel with Colectivo COffee.

By May 7, all restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops with 20 locations or more will be required by the FDA to list calories on menus.

"I think it's a great first step in improving the health of our nation. When people are more aware and have more knowledge, they tend to make better choices," said Michelle Rimer, Assistant Professor at UWM.

The law is part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Many businesses like Starbucks and McDonalds have already made the switch ahead of the deadline.

How to make the calorie listing happen has been up for debate recently. Just in February, Congress made more changes: restaurants will be allowed to provide the calories "per serving" for shared dishes like appetizers and carry out restaurants only have to post calories online.

Some restaurants have dietitians to analyze the nutritional information which can cost thousands. Others use a free database from the US Department of Agriculture. The point of all of this is not to say what someone should or should not eat but rather to provide the information.

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