The Controversy Behind Calorie Labelling

Orla Newstead

Content warning: Eating disorders

From April 2022, the UK government has made it mandatory for food retailers with over 250 employees to put calorie information on their menus. They claim that this “wider strategy to tackle obesity, will help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways.” This will provide more challenges than it solves because this new regulation is nothing but detrimental to people’s mental wellbeing. There are so many different types of eating disorders that affect a wide range of people and this new legislation introduced by the government will not help those suffering. It will only hinder the chance the victims have of recovery. This prompts the question: why do the government think that this could possibly be a good idea?

Eating disorders, like many other mental illnesses conditions, are notoriously hard to recover from

As a society, there is a huge emphasis on body image: seeing those photoshopped celebrities on social media, airbrushed models in magazines, and seeing people flaunt their exercise regimes has not had a healthy impact on people’s mental health. This is especially the case for young teens, as they are indoctrinated into believing everything they see on Instagram as being whole-heartedly true and not the altered reality it actually is. Eating disorders, like many other mental illness conditions, are notoriously hard to recover from.

According to Beat (a charity that helps people suffering from eating disorders) “Research suggests that around 46% of anorexia patients fully recover, 33% improving and 20% remaining chronically ill.” These statistics show undeniably just how difficult it is to recover from an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa, and this new legislation will not help these statistics improve.

Putting calorie content on menus will start a wave of calorie counting which is extremely toxic

Whilst it is important to watch our food consumption, putting calorie content on menus will start a wave of calorie counting which is extremely toxic. Since this has been introduced, I have been out for a meal, and I have ordered food in, and the calories have made me feel guilty when I have eaten these foods. As somebody who has never suffered from an eating disorder, I can only imagine how this regulation must be making people who are currently battling or have battled an eating disorder feel.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, contact your GP and below are some links that can help you:

Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC)
Telephone: 03000 11 12 13
Website: anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk
Provides support for anyone affected by eating problems.

Telephone (England): 0808 801 0677
Telephone (Wales): 0808 801 0433
Website: beateatingdisorders.org.uk
Offers information and advice on eating disorders, and runs a supportive online community.

National Centre for Eating Disorders
Telephone: 0845 838 2040
Website: https://eating-disorders.org.uk/
Provides professional counselling for anyone affected by eating problems.

Orla Newstead

Featured image courtesy of Motomoto sc via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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