Going forward, detailed nutritional information on menus, and not just the calorific content of food, should be standard practice across the eating out sector, Joanna Lewis, strategy and policy director at the Soil Association, said.
“I think we would like to see a clear challenge go out to the sector from the government,” Lewis said at the announcement of the organisation’s Out to Lunch campaign yesterday (21 October).
The campaign rated 21 of the UK’s most popular restaurants on the quality and healthiness of their children’s food options.
‘Want government to say’
“We want the government to say ‘this is what you should be doing [detailed nutritional labelling’,” she said.
“Why can’t more [venues] make it easier for customers to see the good things on menus and help them to see what’s not so good. We would like to see traffic lights on menus, which would also help parents on choosing what is good for their children.”
Last year obesity experts called for similar action to be taken by the government, when Mckinsey and Company published a new study into the UK’s obesity crisis.
The cost of obesity to the UK annually was greater than that of wars, terrorism and armed violence combined, it said.
Restaurants were urged to reduce portion sizes and to display nutritional information on menus, in a bid to save the National Health Service the £776m annual cost of obesity.
More than 2.1bn people overweight’
The report said: “More than 2.1 billion people – close to 30% of the global population – today are overweight. That’s nearly an estimated two and a half times the number of people in the world – adults and children who are undernourished.
“And the obesity problem is getting worse, and rapidly. If the growth rate in the prevalence of obesity continues on its current trajectory, almost half of the world’s adult population is projected to be overweight or obese by 2030.
“The toll of obesity on health-care systems is between two and seven percent of all health care spending in developed economies. That does not include the large cost of treating associated diseases, which takes the health care cost toll up to 20% by some estimates.
“There is growing evidence, too, that the productivity of employees is being undermined by obesity, comprising the competitiveness of companies.”