Publishing calorie content could trouble small restaurants, Treasury says

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 06 Sep 2018
Publishing calorie content could trouble small restaurants, Treasury says
Plans to force restaurants in England to publish calories on their menus has been heavily criticised by the Treasury.

The Department of Health announced earlier this year as part of its bid to fight obesity that it wants to make it a legal requirement that places which serve food list calorie content in its meals.

Last year it was unveiled that 25% of children aged seven were considered obese and that figure rose to 35% when they reached the age of 11. Obesity is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes, although this is not to say everyone with type 2 diabetes is or has been obese.

Although big companies such as McDonald's and Wetherspoons already publish food information on its menus, the Treasury thinks the policy could damage small businesses. It argues that small independent cafes and restaurants should be exempt from the move.

The chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has written a letter to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, which has been leaked to The Daily Telegraph. She said: "I am concerned these proposals could result in job losses and higher food prices being passed on to consumers.

"It could cost businesses, including SMEs, up to £13m (an average of £500 each for 26,000 businesses per year), and individual costs may be particularly burdensome to micro and small businesses, which frequently change their menus to offer seasonal local foods."

While calorie counting is recommended by the NHS for weight loss, it is not necessarily the most effective method and some leading doctors and health experts have questioned the benefits of calorie counting.

Calorie counting doesn't account for types of food eaten, whereas following a lifestyle of eating healthy, real foods can enable sustainable weight gain with lasting health benefits. Therefore, there is also the debate as to whether calorie counting is beneficial in a blanket capacity.

One of the prospective benefits of restaurants listing calories is that it may dissuade restauranteurs from certain high-calorie meals, encouraging them to opt for healthier choices.

Other groups have questioned additional possible consequences of listing calorie counts as a blanket measure. Andrew Radford, chief executive of Beat, a charity supporting people with eating disorders, said: "Evidence shows that calorie labelling exacerbates eating disorders of all kinds. Public health campaigns need to consider people's mental health as well as their physical health."

Diabetes.co.uk believes that quality of food is more important than the number of calories. Indeed, our award-winning Low Carb Program, which emphasises eating healthy meals that low in carbs and high in natural fats, has been very successful at helping people to better manage their weight as well as blood sugar levels.
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