Food & Drink

COMMENT: Calories on menus

“I really can’t see why it’s such a big deal,” asserted my housemate last week as we sat round in our living room. 

It was a slow Saturday afternoon, rife with hangovers and slothliness, it promised only reruns of Gogglebox and Deliveroo. 

One housemate had asked if we had seen the news regarding the government’s recent plans to introduce calories on menus across restaurants. There was a noticeable pensive silence as the topic arose.

We are a house of seven, all between the ages of 21-23, five girls and two boys. All with our own complicated relationships with our body, and as such, with food. 

Living in this environment I can recount multiple instances where we have casually debated the calorie content of a tortilla wrap, a slice of pizza or a KitKat. 

And the figures that we each conjure up are not random guesses. I know a tortilla wrap generally has 170, give or take. Sadly, it is useless trivia that many of my friends have been conditioned to memorise from a very young age.

 So, my housemate’s point of not understanding why it was such a big deal was rooted in the belief that if a person wanted to count calories then wouldn’t they be doing so regardless? Almost as though listing calories sort of cut out the middleman.

Another housemate reminded us of one recent trip to a Wetherspoons, which has always had calories accessible, where we all gawked at the calorie content and quickly rearranged our intended orders for something less ‘indulgent’. 

Our evening quickly became defined by our food choice as our desire for enjoyment was overridden by a panic over our body image.

 What feels so insulting about this toxic scheme is that it is not simply useless but actively harmful. In research carried out by Diabetes UK, they found that it is often the poorest in society that suffers from obesity. 

Presumably, not the percentage of the population that is regularly eating out. It becomes a complete farce which serves only to bury the issue at hand. My fear grows that, whilst those who genuinely require support and funding for obesity don’t receive it, we are placing further strain on resources to help those with eating disorders when this new scheme inevitably has disastrous consequences.

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