It’s been officially a year since the UK government implemented legal requirements for restaurants in the UK to label calories on their menus.
This was implemented to try and reduce obesity across the UK but stirred up a lot of opinions even then. In every food & drink establishment, the menus are painted with calories big and small, and some menus even have a section dedicated to low calorie foods. With these changes a year ago, the government shared of extra regulations where restaurants can apply for permits to have no calorie menus that guests can ask for, but this is very unknown to the public.
Jo Churchill the Public Health Minister shared on the gov.uk then;
“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home. This is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.
“These measures form an important building block in our strategy to support and encourage people in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.”
The science behind calories suggests that it is not a safe way to lose weight and actually quite misguided. Calories equal into energy, and it depends on the individual’s lifestyle and other factors on how much calories they should consume per day.
There are bad calories and good calories and scientists have shared that it’s more important to have a balanced diet rather than cut back on calories. Doctor Giles Yeo, a molecular geneticist explains how calories is not what really matters but how that food is digested and absorbed by the body. When counting calories, its often inaccurate because it ignored the complexity of digestion.
The government gave permits for special requirements to those who have current or past experiences of ED’s, but the public has mixed opinions whether this was sufficient enough. There has been a lack of sufficient research that could give a full conclusion about the amount of people who have experienced ED’s in the UK but ‘Beat Eating Disorders’ estimates that around ‘1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder’which is almost 2% of the UK population.
After seeing all the views on twitter on the matter pop back up due to its one-year stamp, I decided to go and ask the opinions of the people of Falmouth to see what they thought of this matter.
Daphnie, a Falmouth visitor shared that it is “Quite a pain but can be quite helpful for people who are paying attention to their calorie intake, but not really necessary those who don’t”.
Joe, a third-year student at Falmouth University shared his opinions on this matter regarding how people have to ask for a non-calorized menu which can create uneasiness and awkwardness for the diners. “You shouldn’t have to opt in, but rather opt out. It should be the other way around.” Similarly, a third-year student, Livvy has said “It’s unnecessary to put it on all menus, could have instead had a separate calorie menu.”
Lizzie, another student at Falmouth University shared that having calorized menus are “very stupid and triggering”.
Alex, a second-year university student described it as “chaotic good”. He then shared that “It’s not a bad thing but it won’t really counter obesity and just makes people have to put in more work.”
Although the answers of the people varied a little bit, there was a shared consensus that it should be rather the ‘other’ menu with the calories on it that you can request when dining out after seeing the way this change damaged the people around them. On top of that scientists have proved in the last few years that losing weight by counting calories is outdated and so are BMI’s. So, is it time to adapt to what the public thinks and change these legal requirements or keep as is?
If you suffer with eating disorders, or know someone suffering from it and wish to talk to someone about it, you can get help here.