Compulsory Calorie Count Menus

25th June 2018


Restaurants, pubs and cafes will be forced to print calorie content on their menus – in a proposed drive to cut child obesity.  New laws are being drafted by the government to ensure parents can make an informed choice about what they feed their kids.


Government advisors believe people will eat less if they know the fat content of fast food such as kebabs, pizza and curry before they order. The calorie count scheme is part of a package of measures aimed at halving the number of obese children within 12 years. Supermarkets will be banned from displaying sweets and chocolate at checkouts to stop kids using “pester power” on their parents.  There will also be a crackdown on buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) deals on unhealthy foods.


Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wants to give parents more power to make good food choices for their kids. Tough new restrictions will be placed on TV and online advertising of sugary or fatty products aimed at children. The government will consult food and retail chains about its action plan. Hunt said: “The cost of obesity – both on individual lives and our NHS – is too great to ignore. So we are taking steps to ensure by 2030, children from all backgrounds have the help they need for a healthier, more active start in life.” The crackdown on foods high in sugar, fat and salt will be coupled with initiatives to keep children active. All primary schools will be expected to encourage pupils to run or jog a mile a day, or cycle to lessons.


UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nichols said: “The out-of-home sector supports workable efforts to promote healthier eating habits, as demonstrated by the proactive actions already in reformulating menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers. However, the introduction of mandatory menu calorie labelling would represent a significant burden for businesses, particularly smaller operators. Many venues already choose to show calorie content on their menus, with many high street brands giving customers an unprecedented level of information but the reality is smaller businesses will struggle to do so. It would impose a serious additional cost for many businesses facing tightening margins, increased operating costs and wider economic instability. Furthermore, it would hamper venues’ endeavours to incorporate seasonal ingredients and ‘specials’ to attract custom, as well as restricting smaller restaurants’ ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste. Furthermore, calorie labelling would largely fall outside of the government’s targeting of obesity among lower income children, as obesity in that demographic is less likely to be caused by dining in restaurants.”