The out-of-home (OOH) sector should recognise its responsibility to help consumers make healthier choices, Diabetes UK claimed.
Its call came as almost half (49%) of the respondents to a survey commissioned by the charity reported eating dinner out of the home at least once a week.
Launching the second wave of its Food Upfront campaign, Diabetes UK has asked the 24 biggest OOH eateries to help fight obesity by adopting its three-point Food Upfront Pledge (see box).
This, it claimed, would ensure consumers had access to “clear, consistent and easily accessible information” on the nutritional contents of food they ate out at the point of purchase.
In the survey, 79% of respondents agreed that the industry had a responsibility to make their food and drink healthier, while nine out of 10 people said traffic light food labelling would help them make more informed decisions about the food they ate.
Calorie information on menus
Food Upfront pledge
Diabetes UK is asking businesses in the OOH sector to:
- Introduce calorie labelling on their menus or at the point of choice.
- Ensure information on carbohydrate content is clearly available either on menus or somewhere both in store and online.
- Ensure fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content of meals is clearly available to customers, using the traffic light system, in store and online.
Three in four people (76%) said they believed that restaurants and cafés should display calorie information on their menus. People with diabetes have also called for clearer, more consistent food labelling to aid diabetes management, added Diabetes UK.
Helen Dickens, assistant director of campaigns and mobilisation at Diabetes UK, said it was “vital” that consumers had the information they needed to make informed and healthy decisions about the food they were eating out, to help tackle the UK’s obesity crisis and stem the growing numbers of people developing type 2 diabetes.
Dickens said: “With three in five people struggling to find information about what’s in the food they’re eating out, the industry has a responsibility to help customers eat as healthily as possible and tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic.
“We’ve written to the biggest outlets in the sector, urging them to take the initiative by adopting our Food Upfront pledge, which would ensure that information about the nutritional contents of food consumers buy in restaurants, cafés and takeaways is easily accessible and understandable.
‘It can be a minefield’
“The UK public tell us they love eating out – and regularly – but without the information available to make healthy choices, it can be a minefield. Our Food Upfront pledge can help change this, and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all consumers.”
In a survey conducted by Diabetes UK last year, 29% of people said they felt well informed about the nutritional contents of the food they ate while out. In the latest survey, this number had dropped to 24%.
To increase awareness, Diabetes UK has launched the Food Upfront game, challenging users to guess what’s in food typically eaten while out and about:.
The Government is currently consulting on legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling in England in the OOH sector.
Three in five (60%) of respondents to Diabetes UK’s poll last year said they would be more likely to spend money in an establishment with traffic food labelling.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has also launched a consultation into proposals to make food eaten outside the home healthier.