/ Food & Drink

Do you want to see calorie information when you eat out?

Eating out

A review by Cambridge University has looked at whether providing calorie information in places that we eat at out at, such as in restaurants and cafes, has any impact on what we actually choose. Would having this information affect your decision?

From the studies available, the review found that having this information leads to around an 8% drop in calories consumed overall.

This adds to the case for making sure that calorie information is provided by a much wider range of outlets. And while some fast food, coffee shop and pub chains do provide this information, it’s still a relatively small crowd that do this.

Nutritional labelling

While calorie labelling alone isn’t going to turn us into a healthier nation, this study helps illustrate that it can have a role. Although 8% may not sound a lot, it’s still an important difference when you think of how calories so easily add up and how difficult it can be to burn them off.

A survey that we have just carried out adds further weight to the case for calories to be shown. Of the people we surveyed, 63% thought that the number of calories should be provided on food in cafes and restaurants for transparency.

We asked them what action different parts of the food industry and the government could take to help make it easier for people to eat healthily and few people thought that enough action has been taken so far. In fact, it was catering outlets like restaurants and takeaways who are generally seen as being the least proactive.

As well as nutritional information, some also highlighted the importance of food manufacturers, restaurants and cafes also lowering fat, sugar and salt levels in foods and providing a greater choice of healthier options. Including more price promotions on healthier foods was also seen as important.

Healthy eating

Eating out has become a major source of what we eat. The problem is that the food we eat out tends to be skewed towards the less healthy. While we’re used to seeing nutritional information and traffic light labelling on foods in the supermarket, it’s still something that you have to hunt for when you eat out.

I like to think I know what the healthier option is, but sometimes it can be really difficult to judge. When calorie labelling is given, it’s often surprising just how different the calorie content is between similar options. And something that you might expect to be a lower calorie choice isn’t necessarily.

Calorie labelling on its own isn’t going to cause huge shifts in what we eat. But if this information had to be provided it could help us make more informed choices when we want to. It could also incentivise those producing it to think about the fat and sugar content of their food.

This is something that has already happened in the US where calorie labelling has been made a requirement for chain restaurants. So would you want to see a similar approach in the UK? Would you find it helpful to have more nutritional information when you eat out?

Do you want calorie information on menus?

Yes (69%, 503 Votes)

No (26%, 193 Votes)

I'm not sure (5%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 732

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M&S already do it in their restaurants last time i was there.


If you have health issues like myself, it makes the decision making process a bit easier. Especially if you are on a diet. I also think that portion sizes are to big. even with economy sizes. Has you get older you don’t need as much.

Katy says:
3 March 2018

I think that we should be given information about the calorie count for each dish. This would encourage restaurants to serve healthier food and offer smaller portions. They should also give information about the air miles involved in obtaining ingredients, although I appreciate this would be more complex to obtain.

Sue says:
4 March 2018

I have used nutritional info provided by restaurants to check salt content as a health issue means that I have to watch my salt intake. This is so useful and means I can eat out at these establishments. Nutritional info can be an advantage for customers and providers. Thanks Bills & Vintage Inns!

Norman says:
5 March 2018

Going out to dinner is a kind of special occasion, not to be spoiled by worries about calories. In any case it can be a challenge to read through and make choices from menus offering lots of attractive options. Do we really want to make that choice even more difficult?
On the other hand a lunch taken as a convenience when out and about, possibly more frequently than dinner, or an afternoon snack are I think good candidates for calorific considerations.