Will putting calorie counts for meals on the menu make you eat healthier?

Will putting calorie counts for meals on the menu make you eat healthier? Half of diners are likely to order more nutritious dishes when restaurants are forced to introduce the measure this week, a study suggests.

  • Diners are likely to order healthier food when restaurants put calories on the menu
  • This week’s new rules apply to bars, restaurants and takeaways
  • It is part of a larger strategy to reduce obesity and promote healthy eating

More than half of diners are likely to order healthier food when restaurants are forced to include calories on their menus this week, a study suggests.

About 57% said new nutrition information is likely to influence their choices, but only 21% believe it will help fight the nation’s obesity crisis.

The new rules require bars, restaurants and takeaways run by companies with more than 250 employees to put calories on their menus from Wednesday.

It is part of a broader government strategy to reduce obesity and promote healthy eating.

More than half of diners are likely to order healthier foods when restaurants are forced to include calories on their menus this week, a study suggests (file image)

More than half of diners are likely to order healthier foods when restaurants are forced to include calories on their menus this week, a study suggests (file image)

Conditions relating to being overweight or obese across the UK cost the NHS around £ 6.1 billion annually.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or obese, and one in three children drop out of primary school too fat.

Vita Mojo, whose technology powers ordering systems for more than 90 restaurant brands in the UK, including Leon and Nando’s, surveyed 1,000 adults about the changes. It found that 48% already have track or are aware of their calorie intake, with women and young people more likely to do so.

However, activists for Beat, which supports people with eating disorders, warn that the policy risks causing “great distress” to those affected. The charity says focusing on weight, rather than health, is counterproductive.

Thomasina Miers, the former MasterChef winner and co-founder of Wahaca, the Mexican restaurant chain, described calorie counting as a “straightforward tool for assessing the goodness of food.”

He added: “I’d like to see more emphasis on how the food is grown, what chemicals were used, and whether whole, high-fiber ingredients were used.”

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or obese, and one in three children drop out of primary school too fat (file image)

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or obese, and one in three children drop out of primary school too fat (file image)

But Leon’s Hugo Engel said: “In the future, we believe that calorie and allergen labeling is as important as being transparent about the environmental impact of our menu.”

The official business guide to the new rules states, “In addition to helping consumers make healthier decisions, calorie labeling aims to encourage companies to reformulate the foods and beverages they offer and provide low-calorie options.”

Stefan Catoiu, co-founder of Vita Mojo, said: “Our research shows that consumers want to know more about what they eat and where their food comes from.

“This will only increase, with the younger generations taking even more interest.”

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