You don’t even want to know

For all the calorie-conscious students out there, there’s a new law in town — and it’s going to ruin all your future visits to The Cheesecake Factory.

In September 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that aimed to provide California diners with full nutritional information about the food offered at restaurant chains with 20 or more locations.

The law has a two-part roll-out. In July 2009, restaurants began to provide brochures with calorie content and other health facts to anyone brave enough to request such information. Although it might spoil your lunch, if you really want to investigate the number of grams of fat or milligrams of sodium in your burrito at Baja Fresh, you can now find out.

Coming up is phase two which states that on Jan. 1, 2011, these restaurants will have to post their nutritional information directly on their menus. That’s right — that slice of dulce de leche cheesecake won’t look so tempting when you’re able to see that it’ll set you back a cool 1,010 calories (that’s half of an your recommended daily intake!).

Legislation like this has been introduced in a dozen other states and regions, and will likely spread as our nation attempts to rethink the way it eats.

According to the National Restaurant Association 49 percent of every food dollar in the U.S. is now spent in restaurants, up from 25 percent in 1955. That means that most people are eating out for the majority of their meals, which means they’re almost definitely consuming far more calories than their bodies require.

The real question though is whether or not people will actually change their food selections when faced with a bunch of numbers they may not even understand.

Some studies reported in the Los Angeles Times seem to indicate that hungry humans will continue eating what we know and love no matter how bad they may be for our bodies.

So while this new law is an admirable step towards a healthier population, it may not have as strong of an impact as its creators would like. You’ll be able to decide for yourself how you want the new law to affect your own eating decisions in less than a year.

And who knows? Gym memberships might be the ultimate winner here.