Organisation fears calorie counting will affect people with eating disorders
An eating disorder charity has called on the Scottish Government to scrap plans to label menus with calories.
Beat said the move could have a damaging impact on people trying to recover from or living with disordered eating habits.
It comes as a Scottish Government consultation, due to close on Friday, is asking for the public’s views on proposals to make calorie labelling on menus mandatory in food outlets.
Two thirds of the Scottish population are regarded as obese with Scottish Government ministers looking at ways to urgently address the health crisis.
However Beat says at least 1.25 million people in the UK are struggling with an eating disorder at any given time.
Dr Stephen Anderson, a consultant psychiatrist in eating disorders, said there is no evidence that calorie labelling on menus is effective in reducing obesity.
He said: “Suggesting that people need a specific number of calories does not take into account the individual’s physiology, gender, race and activity.
“This could be particularly harmful for children and young people where limiting calorie and nutritional intake can have significant impacts on development.
“A wider public health initiative looking at social and economic determinants of obesity and improving the population’s nutrition is likely to be more beneficial than listing calorie content on menus.”
Tom Quinn, from Beat, said: “The Scottish Government must protect people affected by eating disorders by avoiding making calorie labelling on menus mandatory across the nation.
“This should include taking an evidence-based, inclusive approach with health policies and involving eating disorder clinicians and experts by experience at every stage of the process.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We take eating disorders seriously and will fully consider all consultation responses in relation to them. We recognise that this is an opportunity to identify potential unintended consequences, and any necessary mitigation measures, should mandatory calorie labelling be introduced.
“The consultation remains open until 1 July and we would encourage all those with an interest to take part and share their views.”