A major diabetes organisation is urging the government not to “water down” plans to introduce food labelling in restaurants.

In a bid to tackle rising obesity and type 2 diabetes rates the Department of Health suggested last year that calorie content in all meals should be made available in all public eateries.

The plans were criticised by the Treasury for potentially harming smaller businesses, but charity Diabetes UK insists the calorie labelling plan should not be compromised, and is concerned not enough restaurants will have to adhere to these targets.

Diabetes UK says the proposals indicate smaller businesses that employ less than 250 staff would be exempt from the legislation, which meant only 520 out of a total of 168,040 businesses would be forced to carry out the proposal.

“Exempting 99.7% of businesses from its calorie labelling legislation would be a cop out from our government,” said Helen Dickens, Diabetes UK’s assistant director of policy and campaigns.

“The UK is gripped by an obesity crisis. Urgent action is needed to address it, but if the government water down their original commitments, then the legislation will have significantly less impact. The Government must publish their calorie labelling plans urgently, and provide assurances that medium sized businesses are included in their plans – along with a clear timeline for implementation in these businesses.”

According to the charity, if the government proceeds with its current plan, only 0.3% of businesses would be enforced to make calorie information compulsory.

Diabetes UK has carried out its own research and said that 76% of adults in the UK want more data about the food they eat in restaurants.

The government has also asked the public about its plans, but has not yet released the findings of the consultation that ended in December.

Caroline Cerny from the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 40 health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups, said: “We know that calorie labelling on menus can help people pick the healthier options.

“If the government is serious about reducing childhood obesity, they must ensure that calorie labelling applies to restaurants, cafes and takeaways of all sizes so people have information about the food they eat, wherever they choose to eat.”

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