UKHospitality comment on new Government obesity strategy

Commenting on the Government’s announcement on next steps for its obesity strategy, UKHospitality’s CEO, Kate Nicholls, has commented.

Nicholls said, “Hospitality shares the Government’s commitment to public health objectives, and the focus on public education and information is certainly a welcome strategy. Britain’s eating out sector has made great strides in providing healthier and lifestyle choice options on their menus, responding to consumer demands and nudging healthier behaviour, as evident in the rapid growth of catering for veganism, for example.

“Millions of Britons have rediscovered the joy of cooking from scratch during lockdown, a trend that has been rightly and roundly applauded. We should embrace this by embedding more nutritional education in schools. Cooking from scratch is what restaurants do every day, and it’s how many of them manage to keep their offers attractive, with changing daily specials and locally-sourced seasonal dishes.

'Menu labelling could cost as much as £40,000 per menu run for some businesses, disincentivising such innovative and sustainable approaches, and stifling the efforts to offer exciting and healthy meals to customers.'

Nicholls continued, “A well-intentioned targeting of child obesity is at risk of evolving into an interventionist approach that heaps burdens on hospitality businesses just when they are at their most vulnerable and fighting for survival.

'At-risk sections of society need specific targeting but the most constructive approach with most of society is to provide effective and credible tools to allow people to make informed decisions about their lifestyles, nutrition and exercise, from as early an age as possible.

'The sector is keen to play an active and positive role in helping to deliver and support initiatives in schools, to better communicate the benefits of healthy cooking and eating – there is simply no question that education has an enormous role to play in reducing obesity in the long term.

Nicholls finished, “We are genuinely keen to work with Government to address obesity but the extra regulatory and cost burdens of measures like menu labelling could not come at a worse time. Hospitality has played its part in lockdown, feeding and accommodating vulnerable people and key workers.

'Now, as we focus on securing jobs and helping the economy and communities to recover, a raft of costs and regulatory burdens would be a slap in the face.”