Extra pressure for action came from the Local Government Association (LGA) earlier this month, which called for pub, restaurant and cinema chains with more than 20 sites to display the calorie content of food and drink on menus.
Consumers should be given all of the insight to make more informed choices, said the LGA, which represents more than 370 British councils.
Making more people aware of the nutritional value of their food and drink could help curb the nation’s obesity crisis, it added.
The UK’s growing obesity epidemic has sparked debate across the industry, following figures suggesting 67% of men and 57% of women in the UK are overweight or obese.
Combat the crisis
To combat the crisis, food with high calorie counts should be labelled as such, said councillor Izzi Seccombe, who is also the LGA’s community and wellbeing spokesperson.
Why calorie labelling?
“Food and drink with high calorie content is clearly a factor behind obesity, and the subsequent health problems it can cause"
- Source: Seccombe
“Pub, restaurant and cinema chains need to be displaying calorie counts so consumers and parents have a more informed choice and a better understanding of how healthy a particular snack, meal or drink is,” she said.
“Food and drink with high calorie content is clearly a factor behind obesity, and the subsequent health problems it can cause.
“We want the Government to require major retailers to make their customers fully aware of how many calories they are eating and drinking.”
Bold action had to be taken to reduce the UK’s expanding waistline, which included new rules for the eating out sector, she added.
Jamie Oliver waded into obesity debate
High-profile chef Jamie Oliver waded into the obesity debate again last year, following in the footsteps of the sugar lobby group Action on Sugar, and pressed the Government to implement a 20% tax on sugary drink and food [hotlink].
Oliver’s call followed the release of the Health Select Committee’s childhood obesity report last year, which called for Prime Minister David Cameron to implement the tax.
The National Health Service announced it would implement such a levy on all sugary food, drink and snacks sold in its cafés and vending machines by 2020, which was expected to generate between £20m and £40m a year.
Yet, the move received mixed support from the Hospital Caterers Association. National chair Phil Shelley said: “We support the plans, while recognising that our staff need varied nutritional support due to long shift patterns and nocturnal hours.”
A nationwide 20% tax on sugar had not been ruled out by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this month.