OK, so the 20% tax that was casually slapped onto our supplements last October may seem counter-intuitive when attempting to fight obesity, but with the NHS and private institutions making obesity a priority, there appears to be some momentum building up!
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have led a plea for restaurants and eateries to include the nutritional composition of meals on the menu, but also include the physical activity equivalents needed to burn the meal off. A great idea in principle, but the logistics involved in coordinating a diet plan, nutritional analysis, physical activity calculation is extensive, and then it boils down to whether the customers are going to be receptive to it or not. My hunch is that it will profoundly appeal to a section of the population, but this will most likely include those that are already in shape...time to change mindsets!
However, the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ resonates, and I feel by clearly labelling this on menu’s we stand a better chance of opening consumers eyes to exactly what it is they are taking in and thus, go some way to making them either reconsider, opt for a healthier option, or get out and do 30mins worth of walking later that evening or maybe tomorrow morning…after all, knowledge is power right?
I would add one other criteria to this…knowing the nutritional content of a meal and what is needed to burn it off is one thing, but I happen to think that perspective is key, i.e. knowing what you’re consuming is pointless if you have no idea where this fits into your daily needs. Let’s be honest, restaurant food is designed to taste good, so consequently chefs will throw in cream, cheese, oil, salt, all manner of ingredients to increase palatability and taste, it’s a business after all don’t forget! Consequently an average meal at a restaurant can contain anything between 500 – 1000kcal, so I feel that providing an individualised estimate for energy requirements menu’s would better equip people to understand what each meal means to them! Current research has found that if you make calorie information more readily available to consumers, as well giving it some context and perspective, then this is likely to have a bigger impact on their purchasing behaviour.
Do you think people would be willing to do this…as a Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist I am optimistic experience has taught me to reserve judgement. I support such a move with the utmost enthusiasm and encouragement, and commend any restaurant that does this off its own accord, but goodness knows it would be refreshing to hear that the government would like to make this law and thus go some way to making people’s minds up for them!