From the 6th of April, it has been mandatory for all large restaurants to label the calories for each dish with the aim to 'improve nation's health'. However, this decision is controversial and many believe it might do the exact opposite.

One advantage to the new regulation might be that restaurants are forced to be transparent as they may decide to swap out high calorie ingredients for lower calorie ones to cut down on unnecessary ingredients. This may 'improve nation's health' as studies have shown it is common to over consume when eating out as meals are often more calorie dense than customers could guess. A study in 2019 found that UK food chains that voluntarily published their nutritional information served ‘nutritionally better food'. 

This transparency may also eventually spread into other areas in the catering world, such as including the CO2 emissions on menus, resulting in a more sustainable food industry.

However, science proves that counting calories is not the solution to lowering nationwide obesity rates. 

There is a rough amount of food every person needs to function daily, but that is different for everyone and can differ from day to day. Age, activity levels, gender and many other factors, including mental ones like stress, also play a role in a needed energy intake. In addition, the type of food eaten is arguably more important in health than the energy it contains. For example, an avocado and doughnut may have the same amount of calories, but the saturated fats of the doughnut won't have as long lasting energy and have as many beneficial nutritional elements as the avocado. Essentially meaning that not all calories are equal. This makes it easy for the people to be misinformed and hard to put calorie-labelled meals into perspective.

In addition, a focus on counting calories can even be deadly.

1 in 50 people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder (according to Beat, an eating disorder charity) and up to 20% of untreated eating disorders end in death. Emotions such as guilt and control around eating are a lead cause for the most common eating disorders, which an emphasis on calorie counting would make worse.

Finally, many argue eating out should be a treat. Calories on menus can change a flavourful experience to a dreaded affair. Flavours should be enjoyed and not counted or spared for a lower number. While more transparency around calories can be a benefit for some, it definitely has a high risk aspect and perhaps it would be better if restaurants offered an optional calorie menu rather than listing calories on regular menus.