For your average person, greasy fast food can be just the thing to fall back on after a hard days work. Cheat days are equally, if not slightly more rewarding because it makes all that salty, crunchy food taste all that sweeter. I don’t know about you, but sitting down to eat a double bacon cheeseburger, fries and milkshake is one of the best things in the world.
I’m under no illusion: my fast food choice isn’t the best for my waistline either. Eating a burger almost as large as my head, fries that could feed a family of four and a milkshake thicker than Kim Kardashian and Ashley Graham put together was never going to be light on the calories.
I know this, and the people who order this sort of thing do deep down too, but is it up to the companies who sell this kind of food to us to keep us informed? Doing so could scare people away from buying this kind of food – ultimately ruining a big money-making industry – but that could also prevent people dying from health-related diseases.
With the increase of obesity and diabetes in the UK too, the government has started to get more hands-on with the issue. As a result, fast food restaurants and grocery stores have been ordered to “calorie cap” their food.
The shake-up of “out-of-home food”, which includes ready meals, has been ordered by authorities in a bid to tackle the UK’s growing problem with obesity, which now affects more than one in four adults. According to Public Health England (PHE), the government’s health agency which ordered the change, fast food companies will be expected to gradually cut calories from their products over several years.
The chief PHE nutritionist, Dr Alison Tedstone said: “This is about looking at the 75 percent of calories that are not covered by the sugar reduction programme. This is about things like pizzas [and] ready-made sandwiches, and setting out guidelines for them. We’ve got KFC at the back – chicken and chips. We will be talking to you.”
Whether you’re happy with this news or not, you can understand the thought process behind the new strategy. With the release of meals like the five-cheese stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut and menu hacks at McDonald’s (as well as their normal menu) coming in at around the same totals as the recommended daily intake of calories, you can see there is something wrong.
One fast food offering that health experts will be glad to see the back of is KFC’s Mighty Bucket for One. The beast of a bucket contains 1,235 calories – double the recommended calories for a meal. Official guidelines advise men not to consume more than 2,500 calories a day – 2,000 a day for women – unless they exercise on a regular basis. The numbers are hard to argue.
The plan PSE has rolled out will run alongside a new public education programme called One You, which will educate people on the amount of calories they should have in each of their meals. The programme will tell people that they should eat no more than 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner. This leaves around 400 calories for snacks and drinks.
If you were to follow this plan, or the food industry does what it’s told, there’s no need to worry about settling for a leaf of lettuce for lunch. You could even think of it as a personalized meal plan just for you. You could also just hack the system by ordering two orders of something, if you were dead set against it. Done right however, the plan will help people eat what they love in a much healthier way, and I don’t have much of a problem with that.