Get eateries to display food items' calorie count

When I was in Ontario, Canada, in July, I noticed that all the eateries had the approximate calorie count of every single food item listed on their menus.

I thought that it was very nice of the restaurants to do so, but was surprised when my Canadian friend told me that eateries there are required by law, in accordance with the Healthy Menu Choices Act, to list the approximate calorie count of food items.

In the battle against obesity in Singapore, it would be extremely helpful for us to come up with a similar law for eateries here to list the approximate calorie count for the items on their menus.

On average, the healthy amount of calories an adult should consume each day is between 1,800 calories and 2,200 calories.

However, it is very easy for people who eat out to exceed this regularly on a daily basis.

For example, if someone has a plate of vegetarian bee hoon for breakfast, which has around 549 calories according to the MyFitnessPal app; chicken rice for lunch, around 618 calories; and a Big Mac meal for dinner, around 1,080 calories, he would have consumed 2,247 calories.

And that does not include drinks and snacks.

Each cup of coffee has around 100 calories.

While adopting such legislation would incur a significant cost, it would be worth it as it contributes towards a healthier Singapore population.

Perhaps the Health Promotion Board can start by providing financial help to restaurants to comply with such a move, and then extend the scheme to hawker centres and coffee shops.

Lim Yufan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2018, with the headline 'Get eateries to display food items' calorie count'. Print Edition | Subscribe