How might the calories in your takeaway stack up if the government does introduce a cap?

How might the calories in your takeaway stack up if the government does introduce a cap?

Since a link was made between obesity and deaths from Covid-19, the government has been encouraging the nation to slim down and lose weight. On the 8th of September, Public Health England (PHE) set out guidelines aimed at cutting the number of calories in takeaways and restaurant meals. So what might your restaurant meal or Friday night takeaway look like in the future?

Lighter bites

Under the new guidelines, takeaway main meals could be capped at 1,345 calories and pizzas, both takeaway and store-bought, at 1,230. Side dishes could be restricted to 600 calories, garlic bread to 320, pastry products to 620, and ready meals to 570. The guidelines also recommend a portion of chips contain under 270 calories and sandwiches, including burgers, be limited to 580. Kids’ meals, meanwhile, would ideally come in at under 825 calories.

Those leading the campaign have said that reducing the calorific content of takeaways and restaurant meals could play a significant role in tackling obesity. With the NHS already under pressure because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this move has been broadly welcomed by health officials and could help those at increased risk due to their weight.

Portion control

What would all these changes look like on your plate? As it stands, a serving of regular fries from McDonald's contains around 270 calories and would have to be reduced by 20%. More dramatically, a 14-inch Meat Feast, stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut contains around 2,660 calories, and a side order of garlic bread comes in at 511. If Pizza Hut were to follow the guidelines, that pizza would be more than halved (55% smaller) and you’d only get two-thirds of the garlic bread.

Crisp packets could also shrink, with a suggested cap of 205 calories per portion. A 200g tube of sour cream and onion Pringles currently contains 1,004 calories and would need to be reduced by a staggering 80% to meet the criteria. As another example, a meal deal sized bag for paprika flavoured Walkers Max crisps would need to lose 30% of its contents to go from 295 calories to 205.

Will it work?

Restaurateurs have already hit back at PHE, arguing that calorie-controlled menus would be too complicated and expensive to introduce. Already severely stretched as a result of lockdown, it seems many would ignore guidelines while they are voluntary. There’s also no guarantee that people who feel ‘cheated’ by smaller portion sizes won’t simply increase the size of their order instead, buying extra to compensate.

Calorie control alone is not always enough to see people lose weight in a sustainable way. Instead of being encouraged to ‘eat out to help out’, the message should perhaps be switched to ‘work out to help out’. Regular exercise, coupled with a healthier diet, is the most effective way to lose weight and get down to a normal BMI.

MVP runs workplace-based fitness programmes with the aim of helping people get in shape. For more information, just contact our team today.