Calorie Labelling on Menus, What it Means For You and Your People

Business Insights

As of April 2022, the UK will be making calorie labelling on all menus and food labels mandatory. Parliament states that large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, must display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items prepared for customers.

Maggie Throup, the Public Health Minister, said the new rules were “crucial” to help provide people with the information to "maintain a healthier weight". But, will the new legislation really have this effect?

What’s The Impact of Calorie Labelling?

The Good

According to GOV.UK overweight and obesity related conditions across the UK cost the NHS £6.1 billion each year. The UK government believe that introducing calorie counts to meals will help educate people on making healthier choices for their food. A study found that labelling food will result in a decrease in 81 calories per meal.

The Bad

Eighty-one calories may seem a lot. However, many wholeheartedly disagree and believe this number is of no consequence given the adverse effects calorie labelling has on individuals' wellbeing and those with eating disorders. Additionally, the study involved people from the US and Canada rather than the UK. Two entirely different groups of people. According to The Mental Health Foundation over one-third of UK adults already feel down and low because of their body image, calorie labelling will likely make that statistic worse.

The Ugly

As mentioned before, calories can be incredibly harmful to those with active eating disorders or even in recovery. According to BEAT, an eating disorder charity in the UK, around 1.2 million people with an active eating disorder, a statistic made much worse due to lockdown. With that in mind, showing calories on food will significantly trigger some and impact many’s wellbeing (not just those with an ED). Forcing individuals to see calorie labelling will shift the focus to the wrong thing, numbers, rather than the right thing, nutrition.

What Should Be Done Instead of Calorie Labelling?

Instead of the hospitality industry changing its calorie labelling system after what has already been a challenging time, there should be higher importance on education about nutrition and healthy eating.

Additionally, The Government must address price points from big corporations such as Mcdonald's, charging 99p for a burger versus £2.50 for a salad. Forcing lower-income families, already struggling with financial wellbeing, to make a less healthy choice.

What You Can Do to Help Your Employees

Menu Requests

Many restaurants, such as Prezzo, now allow you to request a menu with no calories, which can help ease the anxiety some people face when ordering at food chains. Mitz Patel, Head of Projects at Prezzo, wrote on LinkedIn: “Although I don't suffer from an eating disorder, If you are battling one, knowing the Calorie info for the meal you are about to eat can be a trigger, cause anxiety and completely ruin your meal!”. Therefore, showing the restaurants clear understanding of this new rule's impact on the public.


Although you may not know whether someone in your team has an eating disorder or struggles with physical and mental wellbeing, it is vital to show your support. Furthermore, be sensitive when discussing topics involving calorie labelling and diets.

Wellbeing Hub

You may even want to provide services such as a Wellbeing Hub that enable your people to access advice independently and anonymously.

Here are some helplines for those who need extra support:

    Beat: 0808 801 0677

    Anorexia and Bulimia Care: 03000 11 12 13

    National Centre for Eating Disorders: 0845 838 2040

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