WASHINGTON — Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut have introduced the Menu Education and Labeling Act, which would require nutrition information to be displayed on chain restaurant menus and vending machines.

"Overweight, poor nutrition and diet-related diseases are public health threats of the first order contributing to numerous chronic health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke," Mr. Harkin said. "But the issues aren’t just medical — they also affect our economy. We spend almost $2 trillion annually on health care in the United States, 75% of which goes for treating and managing chronic diseases that are in many cases preventable. It is time to take preventive action and give consumers the tools that they need to take better control of their diet and health."

The MEAL Act would close a loophole in the Nutrition Labeling Education Act, which was passed in 1990 and required most retail food packages to provide nutrition information but didn’t require restaurants to do the same. The new act would require chain restaurants with 20 or more business locations to provide consumers with information on calories, sodium, saturated and trans fat, and carbohydrates.

The lawmakers have introduced similar legislation in previous sessions of Congress.