Young women say calories on menus will negatively impact the number of people with eating disorders

Kate BrooksbankPolitical Researcher
April 28, 2022, 1:36 PM GMT+0

From 6 April it became compulsory for all restaurants, cafes and takeaways with 250 or more staff to print how many calories are in the meals on their menus. This new government initiative is part of plans to tackle obesity by promoting healthier eating choices.

New YouGov data reveals that most Britons support including the number of calories that are in a meal on food menus (54%), compared to a third (33%) who oppose it.

This said, there are significant age splits on the policy, with 18-29 year olds less likely to support the policy than those from older groups. The under-30s are closely divided, with 45% supportive and 41% opposed, while a majority in all older age groups back the policy (52-60%), with only a third or fewer opposed (28-35%).

Women aged 18-29 are actively against the policy, with just 37% supporting the inclusion of calories on menus and half (51%) opposing it.

Britons are doubtful that calories on menus will help tackle obesity

Despite supporting the policy, Britons tend to think it won’t actually work on its stated aim of helping to tackle obesity.

When asked whether including calories on food menus would have a positive or negative impact on tackling obesity in the UK, half of Britons (51%) think it will have no impact. Additionally, 45% also think it will have no impact on making people eat healthier.

Critics have argued the menu changes will promote harmful and dangerous thoughts around eating, increasing the amount of people with eating disorders, and many Britons agree.

When asked what impact people think the change will have on the number of people with eating disorders, 37% think it will have a negative impact, compared to 33% who think it will have no impact. Attitudes have changed since the question was last asked in May 2021, when just one in four (24%) thought it would have a negative impact on the number of people with eating disorders and 42% thought it would have no impact.

There is also a substantial gender divide, with women twice as likely to think that calories on menus will have a negative impact on the number of people with eating disorders (50%) than men are (23%).

Women aged 18-29 are the most likely to think calorie counts on menus would have a negative impact on the number of people with eating disorders, with 71% thinking so. While not as opposed to the policy in general as their younger peers, women in other age groups also tended to think it would have a negative impact on the number of people with eating disorders, at 60% of women in their 30s, 50% of those in their forties and 47% of those in their fifties thinking this.

See full results here

Explore more data & articles