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Are Salt Warnings the Best Way to Improve the Way People Eat?

Chain restaurants in New York City will now be adding sodium warnings to their menus.  But is that the best way to improve diners’ health?

Jeff Stier, the director of the Risk Analysis Division at the National Center for Public Policy Research, argued persuasively today on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” that this new policy will not have the results that policymakers are hoping for.

“The policymakers who want more warning labels, calorie counts on menus, all have good intentions.  The question is, Is science driving the policy?” asked Stier.  “Just yesterday, the New York Times - of all sources - said that the menu calorie counts, which started in New York and then went national, AREN’T WORKING. They’re not having the desired effect.”

Stier continued: “If you look at the science, these approaches don’t work.  And they have the effect of crowding out better ideas.  It makes us feel like we’re doing something good by putting more warnings on, but we’re not.  We need to come up with more innovative approaches about improving nutrition, improving the way people eat.  And what we’re learning is that more taxes on soda, warning labels on salt, and banning food ingredients doesn’t help change how people eat.”

Stier also poked a hornet’s nest by challenging the litigation legacy of fellow panelist John Banzhaf of George Washington University: “You talked about how you were successful in suing about trans fats and salt and tobacco. The question is, were you successful in improving consumer health?”

Read more about the exchange betwen Stier and Banzhaf on the CNBC website, or watch the entire appearance below:

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