Saturday, 3 August 2013

My case for food labelling in restaurants

There has been a reasonable amount of discussion in the Health pages of the online news about suggestions the Government should legislate to oblige restaurants to provide the calorie content of their menus.

There are two sides of this argument; those who feel this is 'nannying' and that it is too 'in your face' for those who don't want or care about this information and those who feel it is crucial in helping people to make informed decisions and in the battle against obesity.

I sit in the latter of these camps. I understand why many do not want this information on menus which is why my preferred method is a chart (which McDonalds actually provide in most of their outlets containing the calorie, fat and sugar content of their foods) which is available on request and online. This enables people who are interested to make their choices in advance of going to restaurants or help plan the rest of their days meals. And it is not ramming the information down peoples throats.

Why I feel this is important; for those actively trying to lose weight it is often not easy to make decisions about which meal is the healthiest - psychologically a salad is the healthiest option, but often the dressing, bread or way in which meat is cooked means it is far from being so.  Additionally, hidden calories due to, for example, sugars in sauces can sneak in and be futile to a dieter who is eating out.

Then you have the issue of nutritional education; whilst many know what the recommended daily intake is, they do not know what it translates to in terms of actual food consumed. I believe being able to see the calorie content of restaurant meals as you do on food from the supermarket would help with this. People can only make informed decisions about nutrition with all the information to hand and living in a society where people increasingly eat out or on-the-go having information to make the healthiest possible decisions.

Of course for this information to be of any use, people have to want to focus on nutrition, but at least such things would help those who do.

This post was first published in 2012 on my old blog, 'like a moth to a flame'.

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