McDonald’s and other food chains have bowed to pressure to list the calorie content of their food in store. But will this information actually work in giving you a nudge to choose a different, ‘healthier’ option?
As we revealed a few days ago, McDonald’s has signed up to the government’s ‘Responsibility Deal‘ to put calorie counts in its restaurants.
This means that when you visit McDonald’s you’ll be able to see how many calories your Big Mac and medium fries contains (820 calories in case you’re wondering).
Would this convince you to swap to a Double cheeseburger (50 calories less than a Big Mac)? Or how about choosing small fries to save a further 100 calories?
Not all chains have signed up
McDonald’s isn’t the only one, lots of restaurants have signed up to this particular pledge, including KFC, Pizza Hut and Yo! Sushi. And Pret a Manger already lists calories with its food.
Surprisingly, Burger King and Starbucks aren’t on the list, despite having this information on their websites. Why not display it at the point of sale as well?
I’m not the food police and I know not everyone will use the information, but surely that’s up to us as individuals? If we want to take note of calories then it should be there for us to see, and if we don’t then we can choose to ignore it.
Personally, I think calorie labelling is a fantastic idea, but then I’m a nutritionist so that’s probably a given. I love going into my local Pret and being able to know how many calories my lunch contains (and potentially work out how long I’m going to have to spend at the gym working off that chocolate cake!)
Calorie counts aren’t easy to guess
It’s not always straightforward working out which is the lowest calorie option. I would think that a McDonald’s Sweet Chilli Chicken Deli was a lower calorie option than the McChicken sandwich – it’s not. The deli has 570 calories compared to the McChicken sandwich’s 385 – a difference of almost 200 calories.
And even if I then went ahead and had the deli option, knowing its calorie content might encourage me to have a piece of fruit in the afternoon instead of reaching for a Kit-Kat.
It’s not about never eating at McDonald’s, Pret or any of the other chains. It’s about allowing us to make informed choices when we do, especially as most of us now eat one of our meals outside the home each day. And if we want to choose a healthier option, we can – even if it’s a simple swap from a regular coke to a diet one (saving 170 calories).
Well done to the organisations who have signed up so far. To those who haven’t, come on, let us be the ones to decide whether to use calorie information or not.