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Time for Calorie Labelling to Support Scottish Healthy Lifestyle

Posted: 23rd July 2018

All of us wants to be fit, healthy and active. Well, the Scottish Government is now challenging the Catering and Hospitality sector to show leadership and support the country as it tries to become healthier and collectively manage our weight.

Why is this important? The Scottish Health Survey in 2016 showed us that the rate of overweight and obesity in Scotland is one of the highest in the developed world. It found that 65% of adults and 29% of children are either overweight or obese. This is shocking, and the Government has recognised that action needs to be taken. 82% of people surveyed by Food Standards Scotland thought that reducing the level of obesity in Scotland was a shared responsibility.

In its recent Healthier Nation Delivery Plan (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00537708.pdf) the Government has called on leadership from all sectors – including Catering and Hospitality to help promote healthier diets and lifestyles across Scotland. Over the next year Edinburgh, Dundee, North Ayrshire, Fife and the Borders will be championed by the Government to be the first ‘early adopters’ of this ambitious Delivery Plan.

The term an ‘obesogenic environment’ was coined many years ago by obesity researchers to describe our modern environment which makes it easier to eat more calories and use up less energy in activity. The Government is looking to make our food environment in Scotland more supportive of healthier choices. The recent sugar tax on drinks is part of that movement and an example of how recent Government policy can support positive healthy lifestyle choices. Calorie labelling is now a key part of this strategy.

The Office for National Statistics reported earlier this year that the average person underestimates their calorie intake by 30-50%. That is they could be eating on a regular basis up to an extra 50% more calories per day than they actually think. That equates to approximately 1000kcals i.e. around taking an extra standard fast food burger and bun every day. Over a year that is an astounding amount of unintentional extra calorie intake. Reasons for this include our increased tendency for snacking and eating outside of the home, combined in general with larger portion sizes. This is why the Government is now looking to all outside of the home food outlets – from grand hotels, award-winning restaurants, major tourist attractions to family run cafes and mobile take-away vans – to display the calorie content of all foods and drinks they sell. Knowledge is power, and this information will enable customers to be able to make more informed and healthy choices around their daily calorie intake. It will then be much easier for everyone to correctly estimate their daily calorie intake when this information is generally and routinely available.

Some people may see all this as the ‘nanny state’. However, nothing so far has changed those appallingly high rates of overweight and obesity in this country. We should see this as a supportive move to improve the health of the nation and get behind this wide-ranging plan.

So the challenge for Edinburgh’s Catering and Hospitality sector is to show the leadership in taking up the call for labelling calories. AppleTree is a healthy lifestyle enterprise with a wealth of experience to help support you with the calorie labelling goal. Contact us to see how we can mutually benefit each other: www.appletreeconsultancy.co

Dr Laura Stewart RD is an award winning dietitian and Lead Consultant for AppleTree. drlaur@appletreeconsultancy.com

Dr Laura Stewart RD

Lead Consultant for AppleTree

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