Radical proposals on table to tackle nation’s obesity problem
Some food for thought. When you are out and about in East Kilbride and Avondale, are you eating too much at restaurants, pubs and fast food shops?
That is the concern of the Scottish Government.
Aileen Campbell, health minister at Holyrood and Clydesdale MSP, has laid out proposals to legislate in order to fight the flab. These include addressing the size and calorie count of food portions in “out-of-home” settings such as restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars, two-for-one junk food promotional offers and advertising.
The bid to improve people’s health and trim waistlines has been met with a raised eyebrow by some, while others like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver labelled the plan as an “example” to the rest of the world.
Hungry to find out what folk make of all this, your correspondent headed into East Kilbride to test the temperature with kitchen staff dealing with the busy lunchtime trade.
At Victors chippy in the town centre,
It should be up to the people whether they get a small or large portion... Liz Paterson
manager Liz Paterson took a break from pouring salt and vinegar over fish suppers to tell the News she has concerns about legislation which would reduce portion sizes.
“We used to do a single sausage supper and everybody moaned,” she said. “So then we changed it to two. I’m not sure how much it would affect us. We just don’t know yet.
“It’s a bit frustrating if the government were to come out and do something. It would take it out of our hands.”
Liz called for the decision to be left in the hands of the folk that matter – her customers.
She said: “It should be up to the people whether they get a small or a large portion rather than telling people what they should and shouldn’t be able to eat.
“We probably don’t give out too big a portion anyway. But it’s when people don’t think they’re getting value for money it becomes a problem for us.”
Just across the street, punters at The Exchange weren’t thinking about piling on the pounds as they tucked into their pub grub.
Manager Bernadette Lang doesn’t have concerns that they will be forced to cut back but reckons not every eaterie or takeaway will be able to say the same.
“Our portion sizes don’t come prepacked,” she revealed. “Everything is made fresh.
“We also have a pensioners’ menu and that is a smaller size. We feel like we watch our portions well just now.”
She continued: “I wouldn’t say our portion was overly large but it fills the plate size we use.
“At the end of the day you have to watch it to make sure the kitchen is making money. But as a business it’s not something we are concerned about.
“Fast-food places may have a problem because it depends who serves you how many scoops of chips you get.”
In the Village, punters were flocking to popular Scots-themed restaurant Auld Raes. Chef and owner Darren Thomson can understand the angle the Scottish Government are coming from.
However, he thinks some of the lines being pursued in their diet and obesity strategy are laughable.
“I can see why they are doing it to try and take the strain off the NHS,” he said.
“Some of the stuff the government is saying is a bit tongue in cheek. Who knows where it will go from here?”
Darren doesn’t feel his bistro has any issue with portion sizes and is more concerned with full bellies than legislation.
“I think our portion sizes are decent just now and at the end of the day people aren’t going to come back if they complain,” he said.
“I’m quite particular but if we need to cut back on one or two things then fair enough.
“It might encourage people to go and have a dessert or something else.”
Whether you’re a restaurant boss, takeaway owner or food lover – there will be plenty to chew on over the coming months once these proposals reach the debating chambers.
Double sausage Victors boss Liz Paterson
How much is too much? Laura Douglas, left, and Bernadette Lang serve up full plates at The Exchange
Biting back Auld Raes’ Darren Thomson