Menu calorie counts will worsen eating disorders, warn charities
CALORIE counts on restaurant menus will fuel eating disorders, charities and MPs have warned the Government.
A number of charities and MPs have voiced their concern in a letter to The Sunday Telegraph over the proposed mandatory calorie count policy.
They argue that it is unhelpful for those suffering from eating disorders and can hinder those in recovery, as it causes them to “obsess” over calories.
A consultation on the issue closed on Friday, with the Department of Health and Social Care due to make a decision on the policy shortly.
Andrew Radford, chief executive of the eating disorder charity Beat, said: “Requiring calorie counts on menus risks causing great distress for people suffering from or vulnerable to eating disorders.”
Ellen Maloney, a Beat ambassador first admitted to hospital for anorexia aged 12 but now in recovery, said that mandatory calorie counts would force people like her to “obsess”.
SIR – We believe that proposals to introduce mandatory calorie counts on menus will be ineffective at reducing obesity rates, and damaging to the mental and physical health of those suffering with eating disorders.
The premise behind the Department for Health and Social Care enforcing these calorie counts is weak. Studies suggest they do not even achieve what they intend to: reducing calorie consumption for overweight individuals. Current evidence suggests that calorie information reduces intake only among individuals who are already a healthy weight (especially women).
Research suggests that calorie counts negatively affect those with eating disorders. For example, those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are likely to reduce their consumption significantly, while participants with binge eating disorder are likely to increase their consumption. These concerns have also been raised by people with eating disorders and the NGOs that represent them.
This area is under-researched, but what evidence there is makes for worrying reading. The Government has completely overlooked a vulnerable group.
The Department for Health and Social Care should not enforce calorie counts on menus due to their ineffectiveness and potential harm to those with eating disorders. Jane Smith
Anorexia & Bulimia Care Marg Oaten Co-founder, SEED Eating Disorders Daniel Pryor
Director of Programmes, Adam Smith Institute
Andrea Jenkyns MP (Con)
Tim Farron MP (Lib Dem) Anne Main MP (Con) Crispin Blunt MP (Con) Christine Jardine MP (Lib Dem) and 7 others; see telegraph.co.uk