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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 13:18 GMT
Should all foods give calorie warnings?

MPs have suggested that all foods, including fast food and snacks, should carry clear warnings about their calorie content.

Obesity levels are soaring in the UK and the Food Standards Agency has described the problem as a "ticking timebomb".

The House of Commons Health Select Committee questioned executives from McDonalds, Cadbury Schweppes, PepsiCo UK and Kelloggs, but the firms refuse to take the blame.

McDonalds vice-president Julian Hilton-Johnson said it was the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children had a healthy, balanced diet.

Do you think that clearer warnings about the calorie content of food will help to combat obesity? Whose responsibility is it to ensure we eat healthily?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Not every body who is over weight eats to much we should be looking at ways to speed up their metabolism that would save the health service loads of money.
Jackie, GB

What grown adults do is their own business but what I mind is seeing children eating junk and getting fat. Sensible parents know how to give their children a proper diet with all the food groups. For those who don't know better, this information could be helpful but would most likely be ignored.
Nadine, UK

Many processed foods already have the calorific information printed on the box so extending this out to all foods will be useful. Like the majority of people, I do not really know how many calories I should or should not have, so using colours may help. Then you can colour match your daily intake. One red, four yellows, five greens, and five blues equal the daily requirement. This may translate into one hamburger, two pints, one sandwich, six portions of fruit and veg and a bowl of cereal.

It will make no differences whatsoever, no matter how many labels are put on the packaging. What you eat is entirely your choice, be it good or bad. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach good eating habits to their kids. McDonalds, Cadbury, PepsiCo etc, are only in it for the money, but there is always the options of saying no and making the right choice.
Lynn Wong-Abdullah, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This country is becoming obsessed with diets. I have a stick thin niece who keeps muttering she "is fat" because of the idiotic pressure of magazines/newspapers/internet etc. She is about 5'6" tall and weighs around 5&1/2 stone. Hardly fat, wouldn't you say, but thanks to the obsessive, she's worried about it, and it makes me fume. For Gods' sake lighten up; unless someone's weight is DEFINITELY going to kill them or make them ill, then let people get on with their lives. Life is too short to be whining about silly things that are far less important than many more things in life.
Maxine, England

I'm 5'8 and 16 stone. Clinically obese, despite the fact that I cycle 70 miles per week, play squash regularly, and eat reasonably healthily. Another work colleague looks withdrawn, frail, almost ill. He never exercises, eats atrociously (no, really!) yet he is classed as 'healthy'. When will the experts realise that people are just different? And that weight isn't the limiting factor of health?
Steve, Chelmsford, UK

A bunch of bananas in my local supermarket costs nearly twice as much as a chocolate sponge cake. Two lean chicken breasts cost more than three times as much as a bag of chicken nuggets. I buy the healthy options, but then I can afford to. For a lot of people who are trying to feed a family on what we spend as a couple, all the warnings in the world won't affect their choices.
Sally, UK

Common sense, not calories is the answer
Rita Scriven, London, UK
Common sense, not calories is the answer. Too many people take on fast food, rather than cook from "scratch". This is a generation of "not enough time" to cook properly. Food is essential fuel for our bodies which keep us fit and alive. If companies choose to produce second rate "food" and the media advertises it to sell to you and your family - you have only yourselves to blame in choosing fast and ready made instead of good wholesome home cooked goodies. Shame on you all you have no one but yourselves to blame.
Rita Scriven, London, UK

Frankly I don't think it's any of the government's business how fat or healthy people are. If someone wants to eat McDonalds every day then let them.
Colin Smith, UK

Whatever next? Banning high calorie food in restaurants and pubs, fatty only areas in pubs, avoiding passive fatness in public places?
Pete, Wales

I have to laugh at the hypocrisy being displayed by the government over this issue. For years the government has striven to eradicate physical education from the curriculum in order to replace it with more target-meeting subjects. Indeed, it is now rare for any schools in England to have more than 30 minutes per week of exercise for their pupils. Therefore the problem of child obesity is the fault of the short-sighted MPs and the parents who let their children eat whatever they like. Companies make the food, but they don't force anyone to eat it.
Oliver, England

When will people wake up that the only effective way to lose weight it healthy eating and exercise. What is a shake in the morning and at lunch and a healthy meal going to do? You lose fat by switching your body fuels from carbohydrates to fat it takes exercise to do this and the sooner dietician see this the better
Peter Armitage, UK

I agree totally with Peter Armitage, UK. Obesity is just a new form of Darwinism. People who are too stupid to stop eating as much and exercise more when they get fat will suffer. Its survival of the fittest remember!
David Howe, UK

I know several people who gorge themselves on junk and remain skinny (I'm married to one of them!). I know numbers of others who diet and binge and remain at a 'normal' weight. Are they in less danger than the obese (many of whom, far from stuffing their faces, are miserably dieting)? If so, shouldn't we just come out and admit that we're conducting this 'war on obesity' not for health reasons, but because we can't stand the sight of anybody fat? Deal with the prejudice first - only then can we get a realistic look at the health questions.

To SC, UK: I do not believe this "war on obesity" is being waged because of prejudice. One only has to look at the soaring rates of diabetes in children to know that. Because we have become a much more sedentary society, spending too much time with telly and computers, we don't get proper exercise. Combine that with junk food diet and it's a recipe for many health problems.

I don't see how this can work universally. The only realistic way that all food sold can carry calorific information is if it is made in a standardised way. That's fine if we're talking about major chains were every restaurant sells the same items, made in bulk - but for small restaurants where the food is made by hand and consequently has variable amounts of ingredients, it's impossible. I don't really want to see a further step towards the homogenisation of our already third-rate eating culture.
Nick, UK

I feel this argument is almost being used as a scapegoat
Adnan Rashid , UK
I feel this argument is almost being used as a scapegoat, it is an excuse to put the blame on companies who alright sell fatty foods but customers now this and it is the customers those who are obese like me to blame, We know what we are eating we can make the choice between a sandwich and a beef burger. The government should be thinking of how to they can influence better lifestyles among all age groups especially the young who are being weaned on fast food.
Adnan Rashid , UK

Calorie and other nutritional warnings are put on food here and I always look at them. (i.e., PLAN MY DAY BY THEM). The food companies had a cow when they were initially introduced, but processed sugars are an enormous threat to "first-world" societies.
Mary, USA

"Warning! This food contains calories!" Seriously though, putting calorie info on fast food will do nothing about obesity. Anyone who doesn't know it's bad for you must be from another planet. But there's no harm in providing the information for those who want it.
Clare, England

I had to laugh at "Clare, England"'s warning. Given the farce over nut content (like the pack of peanuts with the warning "This product may contain nuts") I can see it now. A pack of lard with the warning "this product may contain fat", a slab of chocolate gateau that "may contain chocolate" and so on.
John, England

Label foods by all means. However, it would make more sense to include nutrition as part of the national curriculum. If people understood their food - for example that a lot of low-fat so called slimming foods are high in sugar and salt and therefore not healthy at all - then they would be more able to choose to eat a healthy diet by themselves. I cannot think of a more vital piece of life education than how to keep healthy.
Kathy, UK

Many publicans refuse to serve drunks. If every time a fat person walked into a chip shop the staff said "no mate, you look like you've had enough already" this would do more to alleviate obesity than nanny statism.
Iain, UK

I think the MPs are missing the point. Calories are not the be-all and end-all of healthy nutrition. You also need to be aware of exactly what's in the food. Too much protein can be bad for you, so can too much sugar or too much starch. What we really need is for food manufacturers to be honest about their production methods and what the actually add to (or take away from) our food.
Penny, UK

Just a little thought! Most people would say that a lean, freshly grilled steak is not that bad for you. So what's the difference when that steak is minced, shaped into burgers, and served with lettuce in a bun without butter on??? OK, the accompanying chips are bad, but the burger itself is not actually unhealthy, nor does it contain a huge number of calories!
Kathy, UK

Yes, by all means put the nutritional information everywhere. There will always be some who will ignore it but there will also be some who, through greater awareness, will choose to eat a more healthy diet.
Megan, USA

Hot on the heels of smoking comes another issue of government and pressure groups interfering in our lives
Stan Cooper, UK
Hot on the heels of smoking comes another issue of government and pressure groups interfering in our lives. We die if we drink too much, if we eat fats, if we eat chocolate, if we are overweight, if we don't exercise, if we don't walk. What's the point of living?
Stan Cooper, UK

In principle it's a good idea but I would interested to see how fast food establishments such as fish and chip shops, pizza shops, Chinese and Indian takeaways give calorific information for their products. These foods vary so much from place to place in terms of ingredients, preparation methods and portion sizes that it would be a near impossible task for individual establishments to provide this sort of information for all of their products.
John, Edinburgh, Scotland

Calorie alerts are not necessary, one must know the rules of ingestion. Low fat, low calorie equals low flavour, if it tastes good it is bad for you. Sweets may be eaten, but not swallowed. Veggie burgers are excellent doorstops.
J R Mackie, USA

Why stop at fast foods and snacks? I, like many others, enjoy an occasional trip to a good restaurant, where I undoubtedly eat far too much of whatever is not good for me. So what! I enjoy it, but it is an occasional treat and has no long term effects (I hope!). Perhaps we should have a caffeine quota - then I can find a paltry excuse not to cut down on the amount of coffee I consume each week!
Derek, Wales

I suppose it would help. Unfortunately, when one is hungry, it really does not matter, what is written on the packet. And, for overweight people, hunger is following them around constantly. As one of my friends confided in me and said that all she could think was food. I would rather reduce the price of vegetables and greens as they are quite expensive to buy in England.
Inga, England

More hype from people who don't know what they are talking about. Calories do not give an indication of whether a food product is good or bad for you, or whether it will lead to obesity. On top of that to have any effect whatsoever the information would have to take up more space than the name of the product otherwise who actually reads the small print.
Keith, UK

I believe people should take responsibility for what they eat. However I also believe that labels should be clear and should carry warnings because consumers are being misled.
Angela Brown, London

I'd be interested to find out how many calories are in fast foods - I might choose the healthiest option, or I might not but at least I'd make an informed choice.
Alison, Leeds, UK

Do we really need more legislation to replace what used to be called common sense?
John B, UK
Do we really need more legislation to replace what used to be called common sense? Frying something is less healthy than grilling it. When a burger in a bun costs as little as 69p it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure there can't be much quality meat in it. It's not such a big step to wonder what else is in it. I for one am tired of the ever-increasing calls for legislation to protect the stupid and the gullible from themselves. Has the government really got nothing better to do?
John B, UK

Will this also apply to drinks? Imagine checking the calories for a cocktail - it would ruin the evening.
Caron, England

OK, but we should also have labels on knives stating "May hurt if you repeatedly jab into your forehead".
Brian, Scotland

My wife is diabetic so it is essential that we know the content of food, especially carbohydrates. But labelled or not, we wouldn't dream of going for a McDonald's or anything like it, the fat and sugar contents must be up in the hundreds.
Ginger, UK

Its about educating children from an early age not to stuff their faces with the wrong food, It then becomes not naughty to eat the sweets but normal to eat fruit. I have never found the need to sneak out and eat junk food, perhaps that's why I'm not obese.
Richard age 15, UK

Yes, it's good to have the information on food but I really don't think it will make a difference. Over eating is a difficult problem to tackle as a lot of it is psychological. Food is often used like alcohol or drugs - to dull the pain of modern living.
Louise McKinnon, England

Some products currently list the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin and mineral content. Why not do this for fat and calorie content? That way people can see that a burger has "empty calories" when compared to something equally as fatty as say an avocado that is jam packed with vitamins. It's our own responsibility (or parents where children are young) to ensure we eat healthily. If there is more easily digestible information about how we can do that, it can only help.
Alison, Leeds, UK

People know that fast food is bad for them do we really need to read calorific information? More education on diet and nutrition needs to occur in schools at an early age. The only fast food that should be labelled with this sort of labelling is food that makes a claim to being healthier i.e. McDonalds salads.
Adrian, UK

Those who are watching the calories won't be eating fast food or giant chocolate bars in the first place
Paul O, UK
I can't believe that people are trying to blame the industry for people who are obese. It's so clear - if you eat fast food to excess without exercise you get fat. Personally I like the choice and can take it or leave it. I don't want someone deciding what I should be allowed to eat. Calorie content - fair enough, but those who are watching the calories won't be eating fast food or giant chocolate bars in the first place, so why bother?! For children who are overweight - Get them off the Playstation and send them outside to play!
Paul O, UK

Well, I'd find it useful, but I'm one of those people who starts to put on weight as soon as I stop paying attention to what I am eating. These days I'm doing alright, but I don't buy stuff where I don't know the calorific content. I've also found that keeping a supply of fruit at work is keeping me away from the chocolate machine, and the weight is vanishing rapidly. At the end of the day, if I'm fat it is my own fault, and if my child is fat, that is my fault too.
Jan, UK

Let's face it, the British aren't well known for their food choices. Most people would rather eat cheap food than good food and until that changes, we haven't got a hope.
Steph, UK

I find many of these comments fascinating. In the US, it's been pretty standard to list the caloric intake of foods, and should be there. No one is forcing you to eat anything. What I find ironic is the that it seems like people don't want smokers around, yet don't care what they eat.
Mike Daly, USA

It's not as much a warning as useful information for the consumer. I, for example, like to know my calorie intake and would welcome such a move.
Volker, England (ex Germany)

I find it interesting that the people hauled before this committee were all multinational food-companies. This sounds like anti-corporate bias to me. Perhaps they should also have questioned a few Fish-and-Chip-shop operators? After all, the city-of-my-birth [Glasgow] was responsible for inventing that cardiac-arrest-on-a-plate the deep-fried Mars-bar. Just how many people have been sent to an early grave by too many salt-and-saturated-fat-laden fish-suppers?
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

Let's have stupidity warnings on people. Then the retailers will know if it is safe to serve them.
Richard Carr, UK

I think the key is to teach all children about the dangers of eating unhealthily
Rhea, Plymouth, England
I believe that up to a certain age, a child's diet should be its parent's responsibility. However, there are two problems with this. Firstly, people are often not aware of just how much junk some foods contain. Secondly, as children get older they can eat whatever they want if they can afford it. I think the key is to teach all children about the dangers of eating unhealthily, and include nutrition information on everything.
Rhea, Plymouth, England

I think adding the idea of including information about the level of exercise required to burn off unhealthy food would definitely make people stop and think.
Kathryn Bass, England

Who cares what is written on a food label. We really need to be taught what a healthy diet consists of - my parents did this, once a fortnight we were allowed to have a McD's, I learnt that we need to have a mixture of foods from a young age. Food labels will end up like cigarette labels, who reads them?
Suzy, UK

Yes. All food should give calorie warnings and nutritional information. Don't you want to know what you and your family are eating?
Agha Ata, USA

While obesity is rising so too is anorexia and bulimia, by drawing such attention to the foods that we eat these eating disorders will only get worse. I think it is necessary to promote a healthy diet but it is important to get the balance right and not encourage obsession.
Clare, England

In the US most fast food restaurants already carry nutritional information for all of their products. This information is presented because of the demands of some of their consumers. Despite this there are many obese Americas who simply ignore the nutrition facts. A government mandate would be redundant and ultimately the onus is on people to not over eat.
Colin Keesee, USA

If a child is aware that something is 'naughty', their desire for it simply increases
Amanda, France
I wholeheartedly believe that all foods should carry calorie indicators. Having spent the first twenty years of my life overweight (and the following twenty slim), I know how sneaky calories can be. However, I don't believe that calorie indicators on food stuffs will combat obesity in children: if a child is aware that something is 'naughty', their desire for it simply increases.
I am naturally suspicious of mother's who claim their children 'never eat sweets and are happy with fruit and nuts'. Mmmmm. I know that when my own mother made such claims, she was unaware of my secret trips to the sweet shop! So yes - why not have calorie indicators on food packets to act as a guide for weight conscious adults, but to believe that it will help in the fight against child obesity is misguided.
Amanda, France

There should be a minimum level of standards set out by the government and adhered to by the food industry in general. The fast food outlets are an obvious example, but more and more often adults and children are being led down a dead end by companies cashing in on cheaper production methods and addictive foods. Why is there so much sugar added to yogurts that are marketed directly at small children. Why is so much TV advertising hurled at children for salty, fatty and sugary foods. I think processed food should have some kind of rating clearly marked on it, maybe out of 10, that is some kind of measurement of sugar, salt and saturated fat. And whilst we are on this subject, let's add clear GM labelling in as well. Snack foods should definitely carry a health warning. More education and information is needed so that our children don't get hooked on the same junk that we have been fed for most of our lives. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke can all be linked to lifestyle, a big part of that is down to the food that we eat over the long term.
Cam Braidwood, UK

Will these idiots not be happy until we have cigarette style labelling on food
"Warning: eating seriously damages your health!"
John, UK

High calorie food isn't the main cause of obesity. The main causes are: stress, depression and a sedentary lifestyle. Calorie warnings on food won't stop people eating McDonald's and other takeaways - because they are quick and easy and sometimes there is no other way to eat in a modern world.
Andrey, Russia

Schools are doing their best to inform children
Heather, North West, UK
The responsibility lies with parents, if you bring your children up to think junk food is bad, they won't eat it. You could be eating anything with all that sugar, fat, salt and flavour enhancers. Schools are doing their best to inform children and encourage healthy eating with fruit and milk everyday. Even the children's parties round here have fresh fruit and raisins rather than sweets and chocolates on the table. I think the message is getting through to the younger generation. My children would rather go swimming at the gym than go to McDonalds.
Heather, North West, UK

It's handy to know what the calorie values of foods are, but it will not combat obesity at all. Nobody who eats large amounts of high calorie foods such as junk foods, chocolate, sweets and fry-ups is going to stop doing so because they can see the calorie values printed on them, they already know that they're the sort of foods that make you fat!
Simon Moore, EU

10 years ago I only learnt about food nutrition in school because I chose to take Food Technology GCSE, it was not taught as standard to those not specifically requesting to study it. Nowadays I doubt the subject even exists as the government considers it more important to spend half the school year testing the kids instead of teaching them.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK

Labels and "warnings" won't do a thing. Childhood obesity has but one cause: poor parenting. People who lack the skill and imagination to feed their children in a healthy manner. What difference is "more information" going to make?
Damian Leach, UK

Fast food means fast money, fast profit and fast way to bad health for many who have taste for the junk food. Children now a days prefer to eat fast food and are becoming lethargic in mental as well as in sport activities.
Saqib Khan, UK

It doesn't matter what you eat - its your lifestyle which makes the difference.
Chris, UK

So how is it going to work? I buy a potato: it has "X" calories if I boil or bake it, "Y" if I mash it with butter, "Z" if i turn it into chips...
John, England

Many of us don't know how to interpret information about calories anyway
Graeme Phillips, Germany, normally UK
One of the problems is the glut of information regarding obesity. Many of us don't know how to interpret information about calories anyway. If we are going to start insisting that data about calories is published, we need to teach people to process the data in their heads quickly to turn it into meaningful information.
Graeme Phillips, Germany, normally UK

Wouldn't it just be more appropriate to tax the bad stuff and use the money to subsidise healthy food?
Richard G, UK

I don't see why not, but lets be honest, who reads the calorie content before consumption and even if they do, does it really impact on their decision to eat it or not?
Jack, London

One question for those in government. Has the larger label on cigarettes worked? If the answer is 'yes' then maybe there is some ground in labelling fatty fast foods, if the answer is 'no' or 'not sure' then forget it. It will be a waste of time, if smokers are not put off by 'SMOKING KILLS' in massive print all over their cigarette packet then I doubt anyone will stop eating burgers 'cause they've written 350 kCal on their side.
Lizzie, London

People by now must have at least a general idea about the importance of a balanced diet and exercise? The problem is that many just don't care about their health or they feel that modern medicine will have the cure for all their ills. In fact some people even feel short changed if they don't get their money's worth from the NHS! The responsibility for personal health should be given back to the individual where it belongs and reserve the NHS for people who really need it.
Sean, UK

It seems to be one of those questions where one must ask how much information should be on food. Personally, I believe most are aware of the high calorie risk in things like burgers. I would be more concerned with content of other product within the food such as artificial. It's fair to say it's not just calories are the problem. It surely is the quantity one eats of the particular product. After all, anything consumed in excess is harmful!
Richard Sweetman, England

I can see why the government is concerned - its duty is to care for the people after all - but I fail to see why this is considered anything more than evolution in progress!
Justin, UK

The 'ticking timebomb' is those food items stuffed with artificial additives and chemicals
Kate, UK
It's our own responsibility to ensure we eat healthily, not the government's. In any case, the calorie content of any one item is irrelevant. Fats, sugars and additives are far more important information than the calorie count. Fresh, whole, healthy milk has a good many calories, but a glass of that with an apple, is far better for you than a pile of low-calorie pre-packaged food.

Whole-fat butter, milk and cheese are all good for you, despite what the food-police say, as long as they are not consumed in excess, and are combined with fresh fruit and vegetables. The 'ticking timebomb' is those food items stuffed with artificial additives and chemicals which people throw into the microwave every night without a thought as to what is in them.
Kate, UK

People eat these foods because they don't care about the calories, not because they don't know about them.
Dave Brown, England

Yes, we all know about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, but most of us who work spend most of out lives in a state of physical and mental exhaustion, so can't put it into practice.
James, UK

Calorie warnings will not stop children eating McDonalds. Children are interested in the free toys, nothing else. Free gifts should be banned as should happy meals as these are just adult burgers with small fries and drink. To counter these companies that target children, get pop stars or footballers to advertise healthy food and make it cool for the kids to eat. If David Beckham is seen eating apples or carrots for example you can bet that as with his hairstyle the kids will copy.
Neil D, Netherlands / UK

If people can't tell by looking in the mirror that they are eating too much, what difference will this proposal make? There is no reason why anyone has to be overweight. Whenever I watch film of starving people in the third world, or victims of the concentration camps, I always look to see if there are any 'big boned' or naturally fat' people there. I have yet to see one.
Andrew Carter, UK

If people are not aware that fried food is BAD for you then surely printing it on the side of the food they have ALREADY ordered is a bit silly.

People must be educated about food from a young age and brought up with clear instruction in that area
Stacey Mitchell, UK
I don't think having calorie content marked on food will make any inroads in tackling obesity. Too few people know what their ideal calorie intake is per day, so adding the information to packaging is irrelevant. People must be educated about food from a young age and brought up with clear instruction in that area. It is our responsibility to eat more healthily, yes, but it is also a factor that 'healthy' foods are so much more expensive than fast foods and junk and are more readily available. Until fast food attracts VAT and healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables I don't see how any positive steps can be made.
Stacey Mitchell, UK

I just can't believe that in this day and age parents don't know this food is bad for children. These people will eat this food on a regular basis even if warnings are stamped on the burger bun! It will make no difference at all.
Sarah, England

Could we not go the whole way of this nanny state and should bloodied, damaged livers on all bottles of booze, tarred lungs on packets of cigarettes, a fat encased heart on every food except water cress, and of course, a totally miserable, but healthy, face on every UK passport.
Gerry, Scotland

From some of the comments here you'd think this was a proposal to ban junk food. It is not, nor is it about health freakery or a nanny state. It's about allowing people to make informed choice by giving them information. All foods we buy in supermarkets have to have calorie and other nutritional information on it, so why on earth not all foods?
Katherine, UK

People don't exercise enough due to lack of safe, suitable outdoor environments (for children especially). Overweight people are intimidated by gyms as they assume they will be full of superfit people. I wont swim in public because of poor body image - why doesn't someone open gyms and pools for us fatties only sometimes?
Lisa, UK

Are we now working on the assumption that all fat people are stupid? Or maybe it's that they're short sighted? It is apparent that we smokers must be both stupid and short-sighted to continue buying packets with the new warnings on them - it's a wonder we can hold down jobs to be able to afford food and fags at all!
Anne-Marie, London, UK

People have to take some responsibility for their own actions
Alistair, Northern Ireland
People have to take some responsibility for their own actions. There is no way anyone who is eating vast quantities of junk food can fail to have seen all the health warnings. Thus they have either decided they don't care and will take the consequences, or are immensely dense and in need of some Darwinian pruning...
Alistair, Northern Ireland

They already do - on the back label. There you can clearly see calorie and fat content. Some supermarkets on their own brand even put recommended calorie and fat intake per day for man and woman. What they should do is clarify ingredients lists i.e. differentiate between natural and man made additives, flavourings etc. Identify what is a sugar and whether the fat is a good (olive, flax) or bad (hydrogenated.) There is enough information to make sensible and appropriate decisions already anyone saying they didn't know is a liar and needs to take responsibility for their health not blaming it on others.
Anna Charlton, UK

Warnings could be put of packaging, but I think that people already know about healthy eating, a balanced diet and the importance of regular exercise, just choose not to follow any of it. However, warnings on packets might clear up exactly what manufacturers mean when they say "diet" or "light".
Matt, UK

I fail to see what good warnings will do, except provide the offending companies with an "i told you so" scapegoat when they end up in court. Look at smoking - cigarette packs carry hard hitting messages, but people still smoke. At least with fast food, unlike cigarettes it has very little impact on those around us - whoever heard of "passive obesity".

I tend to agree with Matt when he says most people are aware they should try and eat healthy food, but choose not to, and where will this culture end? Warnings on the pavement stating "don't cross the road in case you get run down", "don't travel on trains they're not safe", "beware of acid rain". Almost everything is dangerous in excess - even burgers. Ask Elvis!
Chris, UK

There is a lack of awareness in the general public of the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating
Steve Hart, England
We talk about banning smoking in public because of the dangers of passive smoking, but where is the consideration over the rubbish we are sold in supermarkets and fast food restaurants? There is a lack of awareness in the general public of the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating. This is ignorance has potentially fatal consequences. The advent of multi-media entertainment further exacerbates a serious problem among the younger generations. We are in danger of becoming a nation of socially under developed slobs with a national average life expectancy on the decline. The Government must do something!
Steve Hart, England

Not calories but carbohydrates. It is these that lay on the fat. Ask the Dr Atkins foundation!!

All foods should carry information such as fat content and the number of calories, but clear warnings is another thing. Warnings will make no difference, they will not stop people from buying the foods that they like. The rise in obesity is not entirely down to junk food. Lack of any exercise is a major factor. MPs should look at why competitive sport was stopped in schools.
Eric, UK

"Whose responsibility is it to ensure we eat healthily?":
- in your case, you
- in my case, me.
End of story.
Neil, England

It's a start, although of course you can't expect the local hot-dog man to conduct a chemical analysis of his food. But health is more than about calories. What about the endless diet coke I drink but know I shouldn't. That has no fat, little sugar and hardly any calories.
Jonathan Kelk, Scotland

Unfortunately, it was inevitable after the ban on cigarette advertising that the health freaks would turn their attention on another product. I am sure most people are aware that fast food is not good for health without being told so by the nanny state.
Dave, England

Dave - there's a special word to describe those "health freaks" - they're called doctors.
Guy Chapman, UK

US Congress mulls calorie count
05 Nov 03  |  Americas


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