Residents of the United Kingdom may never eat a traditional Big Mac and fries again. This classic fast-food meal clocks in at 845 calories — exceeding new “calorie caps” expected to hit England’s restaurants this March.
Under the new calorie caps, England’s residents are expected to slash hundreds of calories from their diets — though not of their own free will. Public Health England (PHE) officials expect to impose new calorie limits on all supermarket-ready and fast food meals in March. This is one step further than America’s new laws requiring fast food restaurants to display their calorie counts visibly on the menu. With a good portion of Britain’s population relying on these pre-made meals for feeding themselves and their families, health officials believe the high-calorie meals encourage overconsumption in a country where obesity has become a rising concern.
PHE has limited breakfasts to 400 calories and lunches and dinners to 600. Some might argue that eating a bigger breakfast is actually the smarter way to go — but the limitations assume that lunches and dinners are the generally larger fast food meals.
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The new rules were based on the institution’s general guidelines that women should eat approximately 2,000 calories per day and men should consume 2,500. For fast food restaurants notorious for selling extremely high-calorie dishes, the new limitations are expected to be quite the challenge. How does KFC, for example, even begin to scale back their 1,235-calorie Mighty Bucket for One?
Alison Tedstone, PHE’s chief nutritionist, told The Times, “People eat 200-300 calories too many a day.” PHE plans to “work with the industry to reduce the calories in everyday food,” she said.
The calorie limitations are to affect meal items, not desserts or sides. Additionally, they are expected to be part of a long-term plan that restricts caloric intake even further for consumers.
This isn’t the first time health officials have considered putting the United Kingdom on a diet — but this is the most widespread restriction on readily available meals.