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Does counting calories help curb obesity? Fat chance, say many ...

World

Does counting calories help curb obesity? Fat chance, say many experts

The UK hopes to fight a diabetes epidemic with a food labelling law, but many are sceptical that it will do any good

Therese Raphael

After he emerged from his Covid-19 hospital stay in 2020, Boris Johnson announced his determination to tackle obesity in Britain. There was no doubting the urgency: Britain has the third highest levels of obesity in Europe, with about three quarters of adults  overweight or obese.

It was already becoming clear that obesity risked worse Covid-19 outcomes and added pressure to Britain’s already creaking National Health Service (NHS), which spends about £10bn (about R190bn) a year on diabetes, more than it spends on cancer treatment.

So it seems a reasonable, if small measure to require any restaurant, pub or cafe in England with more than 250 employees to display the calorie counts of their menu offerings. Calories also have to be available to those using delivery services such as Uber Eats. Surveys suggest people underestimate how much they eat by up to 50% and also tend to underestimate how many calories certain foods contain, so information and transparency can hardly be a bad thing. ..

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