Starting next week, coffee giant Starbucks will be giving customers an easy way to determine exactly how much their morning treats are contributing to their waistline.
On June 25, the company will include calorie counts for its beverages and food prominently displayed on signs at Starbucks' 11,000 locations. The move is intended to "complement the food and beverage transparency" of the company, and to comply with a federal regulation that requires large food companies to display calorie counts, Starbucks said in a Tuesday announcement.
According to Reuters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chains with 20 locations or more to make similar disclosures nationwide by the end of the year.
The company said the decision to tell customers that there are 310 calories in a small White Chocolate Mocha and 400 calories in a small Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino is meant to encourage customers to make more health-conscious choices by customizing their drinks with sugar-free syrup, or low-fat milk.
In addition to listing the calories in all beverages, pastry cases will also display calorie information.
"Starbucks believes that wellness is the journey to a happy, healthy life through daily choices, whether it's a favorite beverage or a wholesome meal option," said Mary Wagner, senior vice president of global research and development, in a statement.
The company also highlighted other moves it has made in recent years to give customers healthier options, including eliminating artificial flavors and dyes from its coffee drinks and offering lunch items under 500 calories.
Starbucks isn't the first large food chain to make it easier for customers to count calories. Panera Bread Co. was the first national restaurant chain to do so voluntarily in 2010, according to Reuters, and McDonalds announced last year that it would post calorie counts in its restaurants, according to The Atlantic.
And according to USA Today, the change comes at a time when Americans are already asking for healthier options at restaurants.
"When people didn't eat out as much, it didn't matter as much," Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told USA Today. "But nutrition now matters in a way it didn't in the past."
Research has shown that when restaurants post calorie information, customers tend to order healthier items, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Stanford Graduate School of Business study found that when Starbucks posted calorie information in New York City in 2008, customers ordered items with 6 percent fewer calories on average.
"We are encouraged by the findings highlighted in the Stanford study that show posting calories can have a positive impact on an individual's daily caloric intake," Linda Mills, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, told the Wall Street Journal.