Benefits of calorie labelling 'do not outweigh the risks', Scottish report warns

03 April 2024 by
Benefits of calorie labelling 'do not outweigh the risks', Scottish report warns

Public Health Scotland has warned against Scottish hospitality operators displaying calorie information on menus.

The report, Exploring the Perspectives of People with Lived Experience of Eating Disorders when Eating Out of Home, was published earlier this week.

The Scottish government launched a public consultation in spring 2022 to gather views on its proposals to introduce mandatory calorie labelling in hospitality businesses.

Restaurants, bars and cafés with more than 250 employees in England have been declaring calories on menus since 6 April 2022 under government legislation.

The research from Public Health Scotland was conducted in close collaboration with Scotland-based eating disorder charities and among individuals who have collectively experienced a range of eating disorders.

The policy proposal received widespread criticism from participants, with many arguing the "benefits of mandatory calorie labelling in reducing obesity do not necessarily outweigh the risks of presenting this information to people with lived experiences of eating disorders without them specifically requesting it".

They also cited the potential harm the policy could inflict on those in recovery as a result of the "triggering effects of calorie information".

Mitigations, such as only providing calorie information on request or via QR code, were also suggested in the report.

Leon Thompson, executive director of UKHospitality Scotland, said: "Understanding how calorie labelling impacts people with lived experiences of eating disorders is important in this debate and I commend Public Health Scotland for carrying out this research.

"The research recognises that hospitality can help people with their recovery by allowing them to enjoy the experience and socialising with family and friends. That's the power of hospitality and these benefits must be recognised when legislation like this is being discussed."

He added: "We look forward to discussing these findings and the broader concerns of our members with the Scottish government to make the case for scrapping this harmful and unnecessary move."

Image: Evan Lorne/Shutterstock

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