New legislation has been announced that enforces the clear and prominent display of calorie information on menus and food items to large hospitality businesses employing more than 250 or more staff across the UK.
In addition to this, the UK government is also encouraging smaller businesses to add calorie labelling voluntarily and hasn’t ruled out possibly extending the legislation to cover all businesses operating in the food sector at some point in the future.
In light of the new regulations, we asked Eating Disorders expert Rachel Matthews, Director of Mental Health at Schoen Clinic UK, how displaying calorie counts on menus/food items will impact those suffering from an Eating Disorder condition.
Rachel says, “This is an interesting topic and will affect people differently depending on their stage in their Eating Disorder journey. The transparency of meal content means that individuals with an Eating Disorder (EDs) have the ability to always pick a safe option: at some stages of recovery, this can be helpful. It can enable them to confidently go out and eat socially. For those that are further on in treatment and trying to not think about calorie content, then this can be more unhelpful for them”.
Patients at the eating disorder hospital group, Schoen Clinic UK, are given an audit of meal preparation whilst social eating sessions are integrated into their routine. Using a graded approach, young people begin by preparing simple meals, then progress to main meals (according to age and ability). Social eating is also supported, initially by having lunch outside in a café, then may include going to a restaurant for an evening meal.
Rachel continues, “It is assumed that the calorie content on menus is for those that are overweight (as part of the anti-obesity campaign). There are many more individuals that adopt disordered eating than eating disorders. We know that disordered eating is not just about calorie tracking; it can be adopting different eating patterns for many reasons, other than medically diagnosed illnesses.
As with all mental health disorders, we measure severity on how the disorder impacts functioning. The question we need to ask is if calorie tracking will discourage individuals from going out for social meals. We need to do more research on the impact of calorie content on menus”.
About Schoen Clinic
Schoen Clinic has more than 30 years of experience in the treatment of mental health conditions. Their skilled group of eating disorder specialists includes Consultant Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists and therapists who work in teams to provide a whole-person experience, looking at every aspect of the patient’s life, their family relationships and the relationship to food. Once they have developed care plans, they work in partnership with the family to support them throughout.
Schoen Clinic has 3 Eating Disorder Facilities in the UK.
Schoen Clinic Newbridge (Inpatient Hospital for 8-18-Year-Olds)
Schoen Clinic York (Adult Inpatient Hospital for Adults 18 Years+)
Schoen Clinic Chelsea (Outpatient Clinic Treating 11 Years+)
Read more food news, guides and features here.