Plans have recently been announced that it may become compulsory for all restaurants to list the calorie content of their menu items, but is this a good idea?
The amount of people needing to lose weight in Britain is increasing so the thinking is that knowledge and awareness of calories would help people to make better choices.
The studies so far are mixed; people do eat fewer calories when they can see what’s in menu options, but only enough to amount to 1 lb loss over 3 years, not much if we’re being honest!
So it’s clear that calories being listed isn’t the only answer and motivational and behaviour change approaches would probably be needed alongside.
The main backlash comes from Eating Disorder specialists and sufferers who believe focussing on calories will detract from intuitive eating and other markers of a healthy mean, for example nutritional content.
But I had a different view despite being a recovered anorexic:
“However, criticism of proposals to make calorie information more readily available is not unanimous. Polly Hale, who suffered from anorexia, found that having calorie information more readily available makes eating more relaxing. “A therapist would say that’s giving into the ED (eating disorder) but if I don’t know the calories, I undereat ‘just in case.’ I eat better when I’m in control,” she says. Hale’s account suggests there may be mileage in a middle ground that allows individuals to more readily access calorie information, but without forcing it into the consciousness of anyone who looks at a menu (an example of such an approach would be making labelled menus available upon request).”