Calories are now on the menu

Julie, our registered associate nutritionist, provides an overview of the new calorie labelling legislation introduced in April 2022.

Last month the U.K. government introduced new calorie labelling legislation for large businesses with more than 250 staff. The legislation applies to businesses such as large takeaways, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Calorie information must be made available to the consumer for all non-prepacked food and soft drinks, including menus on-site, online and apps. Any business refusing to comply could be hit with a hefty fine of £2,500.


The legislation is a bid to help tackle obesity levels, as well as provide people with information to make a more informed and healthier choice.


In England around 63% of the adult population are considered to be overweight or obese, in addition approximately 40% of children leaving primary school are also overweight or obese. This is a cost to the U.K. NHS of £6.1 billion per year as well as an increased risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.


The question is, will this new legislation reduce obesity levels in the U.K. and could the government be a little shortsighted here? After all, according to Giles Yeo, a Cambridge research scientist for genetics in obesity, not all calories are equal!


Why? Let’s consider the types of food we eat and how they are digested and absorbed in the body. For example, foods containing protein and fibre take much longer to digest, this is why they make us feel fuller for longer than say a bar of chocolate for example. Digesting food also requires energy too to metabolise it so in reality we probably only absorb around 70 calories for every 100 calories of protein we eat.


Being overweight or obese is not always our own fault either, believe it or not, it can be down to our genetic makeup too! It is now well known that over 1000 genes are linked to obesity, some of these affect how we eat as well as telling our brains how full we feel too. This is due to a slight mutation in one of the genes. 1 in 330 people in the U.K. have this mutation, making it more difficult to reduce the risk of temptation when it comes to having that extra treat or two.


Could this new legislation have a negative impact too? Let’s consider teenagers and young people that may be hung up about body image! Social media has certainly heightened young people’s need to ‘fit in’ with society. Research clearly shows that image can impact on body dissatisfaction and lead to eating disorders later in life.



Julie is an Associate Registered Nutritionist and believes in providing a personalised approach to her clients to help them reach their health and lifestyle goals. Julie has experience working with clients on a one to one basis to support digestive disorders, weight management, women’s health, and special dietary requirements and menu development for children. In addition, Julie is a qualified chef and lecturer, and is able to support clients with their culinary skills, education and training.


References

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-calorie-labelling-rules-come-into-force-to-improve-nations-health


https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jun/20/giles-yeo-why-calories-dont-count-diet-interview?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001450/


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