The decision of the Oireachtas Joint Sub Committee on Administration to include on menus the amount of calories on food sold in Dáil Éireann is very welcome. I believe that people should be aware of how many calories they are consuming in a bid to get to grips with the obesity epidemic and live healthier lives.
As public representatives, we must lead by example. By knowing exactly how many calories you are consuming at every meal, it is easier to maintain a balanced diet by making informed decisions. A recent study carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) found that 95 per cent of consumers in Ireland want calories included on menus.
A US study in 2011, found that the consumers who reported using the calorie information provided, purchased 106 fewer calories on average, compared with those who reported not using the information.
Minister Reilly has written to food and beverage organisations asking them to voluntarily include the calorie amounts of food and drinks on their menus. The response rate so far has been very encouraging and the FSAI has published a step-by-step guide for food businesses on how to achieve this.
The battle against adult and childhood obesity in this country is one that we must tackle and overcome as a matter of urgency. Educating people and driving awareness are important parts of achieving this and I believe that including the calorie amount on menus in restaurants and bars across the country will go some way to getting to grips with this serious matter.