The government has launched the Public Health Responsibility Deal which, in part, is encouraging fast food restaurants to print the calorie content of their foods on the packaging. It is part of an initiative to make people eat a healthier diet by giving them more information about the food they are eating.
A similar system has been operating the United States for some time and was implemented after it became clear that some people were eating foods and were dramatically underestimating the calorie content of the foods. In another survey conducted, it was revealed that around 15 per cent of people use the calorie information when it is available and these people consume over 100 calories less, on average, than someone who does not.
The Department of Health in the UK has commented, “Customers who are aware of the calorie content of food will be able to make a more informed decision about what they are eating. They will be able to decide to eat less calories and lead a healthier life.” Much research has been conducted previously into the importance of diet on mental health and people who eat a balanced diet are less prone to depression.
Rather unsurprisingly, McDonald’s has conducted its own research, the company commented, “Our research shows that while the majority of people do look at this information, only around one in every five will let it affect what they choose to eat in the restaurant.”
Some nutritional experts are predicting that there may be a new competition between fast food chains soon, one where they will be fighting to keep their calories counts lower than the competitors. The problem with this is it will probably lead to foods containing nutritionally valueless filler ingredients and also higher levels of salt to make up for the loss in taste.
Some people have called for restaurants not just to display the calorie content of the food, but provide a full nutritional breakdown – which would include salt levels. This would encourage restaurants with poor quality food to increase their standards as people will know exactly what the food contains.