Counting Calories In Restaurants…

Is it enough to put you off your food?

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The Department of Health is moving forward with plans to encourage restaurants and fast food outlets to display calorie information on their menus and is asking for commitment from companies including Pizza Hut, Mars PepsiCo and McDonalds to support the scheme.

The government has stressed that the new rules would be voluntary but said many food companies "are keen to make a firm commitment". Restaurants, takeaways, cafés, pubs, sandwich shops and staff restaurants would sign up to put calorie labelling on eat in and take away menus from September 2001.

In addition to the calorie information, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has written to all members of the Food Network asking them to sign a written commitment to reduce levels of the harmful ingredients such as salt and artificial trans fats.

A spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum, said: "For the first time in over a decade we are witnessing the Government getting the food industry to toe the line. That achievement must be welcomed.”

The practice of calorie labelling was hailed as a success after it was trialed in New York in 2009 however, according the latest research even though customers became more aware of how much they were eating, it had little effect on what they purchased.

New York University's Dr Brian Elbel found that price and taste were such powerful motivators, they cancelled out any desire to be healthy and said other ways of reducing calorie intake were needed.

February 23, 2011