Thank you for contacting me about calorie labelling on menus and its impact on people with eating disorders. I have read your email carefully and have noted the key points that you make. Along with several other MP colleagues, I basically share your concerns and we will be making sure that these important points and concerns are raised with Ministers both privately and on the floor of the House and in the Committee stage of any legislation that includes these measures.
The Government, meanwhile, has so far shared the following feedback with MPs who normally support it, which I hereby share with you for your information:
“With eating disorders on the rise, tackling these disorders through early and effective treatment remains a key priority of this Government and our NHS.
The Department of Health and Social Care recognise concerns people with eating disorders may have on measures to reduce obesity, and we support their commitment to striking a careful balance between enabling people to make healthier food and drink choices whilst not negatively impacting on those with or recovering from an eating disorder.
Alongside work to develop the obesity strategy, an equality assessment was undertaken to understand the impact of these proposals, including on people with eating disorders. Although some research has showed that label use on packaged foods was related to engagement in some unhealthy weight behaviours, there is a larger likelihood of participants engaging with healthy weight control behaviours.
With more than a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, and nearly two thirds of adults, it is vital that we equip people with the information to make decisions about their food intake. Information on the energy content of food and drink is already widely available in supermarkets through mandatory nutrition labelling requirements on pre-packaged foods and some restaurants.
The Government is committed to striking a careful balance between informing and educating people to make healthier choices, while not negatively impacting people with eating disorders or those in recovery from eating disorders.”
This issue will require careful consideration, and robust cross-examination re. the possible/likely disadvantages and downsides, and I will certainly keep a very close eye on it going forwards. As I say, I personally share your worries and concerns.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me with your thoughts on this important matter.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking