Say 'NO' To Calories On Menus

The Scottish Government is considering introducing calories on menus, as part of it's Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan.

We know this does more harm than good. We're asking you to stand against it.

Why? Well there's very little evidence that calorie-labelling helps with weight management. And yet the research shows it poses a serious risk to people with eating disorders.

So, here's what you can do:

Your voice matters. So we're asking you to sign our open letter to Maree Todd (Scotland's Minister for Public Health) asking her to reconsider adding calories on menus

 

Your Details:

The Open Letter:

Dear Maree Todd MSP, 

 

We are writing to urge you to reconsider the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling on menus in Scotland. 

  

It is clear that including calorie information on menus will have a negative impact on people with an eating disorder. Research has found that when making food choices from a menu that includes a calorie count, those with anorexia and bulimia are more likely to order food with significantly fewer calories, whereas people with binge eating disorder are more likely to order food with significantly more calories, exacerbating eating disorder behaviours.  

 

There is very limited, low-quality evidence supporting the idea that calorie counts on menus will lead to a long-term reduction in calories purchased by the general population. In addition, calories are not a reliable indicator of the nutritional value of a meal, nor of how full it would make a person feel.   

  

Eating at restaurants is highly anxiety provoking for individuals with eating disorders and it is a very important part of recovery to reintroduce this activity. The inclusion of calorie content on menus has the potential to hinder the process of recovery, and puts people at risk of developing disordered eating habits. Eating out at restaurants should not be reserved for those who feel well enough to do so and should not put vulnerable people at risk. 

 

In late 2020, Beat surveyed over 1000 people to understand how this policy change might affect their recovery from an eating disorder. Over 93% were worried about its negative impact and this quote is typical: “When I was unwell, restaurants were terrifying to me. Despite panic attacks and tears I was able to overcome that fear. Had there been calorie counts on the menu I don't know if I would have coped” 

 

When England introduced calories on menus in April, Beat saw the detrimental effect it had on the people they support. Those with eating disorders, and those in recovery, have struggled with the change and continue to reach out for help. 

 

There has already been a dramatic increase in demand for support during the pandemic, and extra funding from the Scottish Government is helping to make a difference. But we have reason to believe that, by introducing mandatory calorie labelling on menus, the Scottish Government will cause harm to the group of people it’s trying to help through this funding. 

 

With this proposed legislation the Government must listen to people with lived experience of eating disorders, as well as clinical experts. It is crucial that the Government use a proven, evidence-based approach that is not harmful to people with eating disorders or those at risk of developing an eating disorder, as opposed to treating them as acceptable collateral damage.  

  

We urge you to consider whether the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling on menus represents best practice, either in terms of promoting health or in ensuring no harm to those with eating disorders. We believe that the introduction of calorie labelling on menus will do harm to those with eating disorders, and those at risk of developing an eating disorder, and urge that they are not mandated. 

  

Yours sincerely, 

 

Andrew Radford, Chief Executive, Beat 

Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs, Beat

Katherine Pugh, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs, Beat

Jonathan Kelly, Policy Advisor, Beat

Annabel Smith, Policy & Public Affairs Officer, Beat

Emma Broadhurst, National Officer for Scotland, Beat

Jo Whitfield, National Officer for Wales, Beat

Nicola Armstrong, National Officer for Northern Ireland, Beat

Hajrah Khan, Campaigns Officer, Beat

Vicky Horne, Campaigns and Engagement Officer, Beat

 

 

Keeping in touch

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