Closed petition Stop the plan to include calorie counts on menus

PM Boris Johnson recently promoted the idea of including calorie counts on restaurant menus to "tackle obesity". We, the undersigned, are asking that this does NOT happen. Calories are not a constructive way to determine full nutritional value, and we ask the government to consider other factors.

More details

We believe including calorie counts on restaurant menus would be at the extreme mental and physical detriment of those suffering from eating disorders, which research suggests is somewhere between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK alone. Calorie counts can promote food being seen as a "reward" that is "earned", which can encourage excessive exercise and potential binging/purging behaviours. Eating out should be a pleasurable and enjoyable experience, not one dominated by anxiety around eating.

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Government responded

This response was given on 28 August 2020

Calorie labelling on menus in the out-of-home sector will ensure people are able to make informed decisions about the food and drink they and their families consume.

Read the response in full

We do recognise concerns about calorie labelling and are committed to striking a careful balance between informing and educating people to make healthier choices whilst not negatively impacting people with eating disorders or those in recovery from eating disorders.

However, with over 6 in 10 adults and more than 1 in 3 children aged 10 to 11 years old overweight or obese it is right that our policy focuses on improving diet and reducing obesity.

We know that obesity is a complex problem caused by many different factors to which there is no single solution. It is a leading cause of serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and can contribute to poorer mental health. It also increases the risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19. This represents a huge cost to the health and wellbeing of the individual, the NHS and the wider economy.

Calorie labelling on menus by large out-of-home sector businesses, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees, will ensure people are able to make informed decisions about the food and drink they and their families consume.

Having an eating disorder can be a serious and life threatening condition and often utterly devastating for not only individuals suffering with the condition, but also for those around them - which is why we want to ensure that people have access to the right mental health support, in the right place, and at the right time. We are committed to ensuring everyone with an eating disorder has access to timely treatment based on clinical need and that individuals continue to have support throughout their recovery process. Our aim is to help everyone reach their own, informed, healthy relationship with food for a healthy nation.

Department of Health and Social Care

Other parliamentary business

The impact of body image on mental and physical health – Share your views with MPs

The MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee want to hear your views on the impact of body image on physical and mental health. They have launched a survey covering accessing public health services for body image-related issues and the current public health messaging on obesity. You do not need to have experience of all of these to take the survey. All responses will be anonymous.

Share your views by taking this 10 minute survey:

The survey will remain open until Wednesday 11 May at 5pm.

The responses received will be used to inform the Committee’s inquiry into the impact of body image on mental and physical health. The results will likely be published as part of the Committee’s report on this issue, which will be published following the conclusion of the inquiry later this year, and will contribute to the recommendations the Committee will make to the Government on this topic.

The inquiry

The Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry is examining concerns about the relationship between people’s perception of their body image and their physical and mental health. They will consider how far people’s perception of body image can hinder access to NHS services and whether NHS training and Government messaging should be altered.

The inquiry is currently ongoing. So far, the Committee has held two evidence session with activists such as James Brittain-McVey, Lead Guitarist in the Vamps and Campaigner; Alex Light, Journalist and Influencer; Nyome Nicholas-Williams, Model and Activist, and NHS clinical and research experts.

Find out more information about the inquiry, including the written and oral submissions received:

What is the Health and Social Care Committee?

The Health and Social Care Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Health and Social Care and associated public bodies.

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