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Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, speaks to the media before getting a flu shot at Atrium on Bay in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail

Toronto's board of health has approved a report that calls for nutritional information to be added to some restaurant menus.

The board voted 9-2 in favour of the report, prepared by medical health officer David McKeown, during a meeting at city hall Monday.

The report recommends that the board urge the province to develop menu labelling legislation. The legislation would be aimed at restaurants with ten or more outlets nationwide, or at least $10-million in gross annual revenue. The restaurants would be required to list calories and sodium values on its menus or menu board, and to provide comprehensive nutritional information through a pamphlet or brochure.

If the province has not proceeded with the legislation by September, the report calls on the city to proceed with its own bylaw.

Dr. McKeown, speaking with reporters after the vote, said nearly half the population of Toronto is overweight or obese, and about one-quarter has high blood pressure.

"Many restaurant meals are very high in calories or sodium. The trouble is we don't know which ones. There are studies that have shown it's very difficult for people to tell which menu offerings are healthy or unhealthy in terms of calories or sodium. People want this information, they're interested in their health, and studies show that if the information's provided right on the menu, people see it and they actually use it to make decisions," he said.

When asked whether people can already find such information, Dr. McKeown said, "You shouldn't have to look that hard."

"Studies show that when the information is provided on a website or in a brochure, a very small proportion of people actually see it and use it. You have to make it easy for people," he said.

Councillor Joe Mihevc, the board's chair, said the ideal outcome would be for the province to "take up the mantle." However, he said the city will move forward on its own in September if it has to.

John Nunziata, the former MP turned lobbyist, represented the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association at the meeting.

He asked why, if menu labelling is such a wonderful idea, provincial governments and the federal government aren't moving forward with it on their own.

Mr. Nunziata said figuring out the calorie count for an item can prove expensive for business, and people are smart enough to make their own healthy choices.