RESTAURANTS could be forced to show how many calories are in meals as part of Scottish Government plans to encourage people to eat more healthily.

Calorie labelling on restaurant and takeaway menus could become mandatory under the measures being proposed by Scottish ministers who argue it could help tackle obesity.

Children’s menus could also have to abide by a “code of practice” to ensure healthy food options are available when families eat out.

Scotland’s public health minister, Maree Todd (below), said the measures, part of a strategy called the Out of Home Action Plan, aim to “reduce health inequalities and support people to live longer healthier lives”.

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Launching a public consultation on the proposals, Todd said: “Obesity continues to be one of the biggest and most complex public health challenges.

“Addressing it remains a priority to create a Scotland where we eat well, have as healthy a weight as we can, and are more physically active.

“We know that by giving people more information, such as the number of calories in meals, empowers people to make healthier decisions when eating out, or ordering in.

“This plan proposes bold measures on how we can work with the food industry to create sustainable change to reduce harm to people’s health caused by poor diet and excess weight.

“It remains an unwelcome reality that communities experience health, quality of life and even life expectancy differently across our society and the current health emergency has further highlighted the damaging impact of inequality.”

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Food Standards Scotland chair Ross Finnie (above) said: “The pandemic has added new focus on the need to address the issues around the Scottish diet, with an estimated two-thirds of the population living with overweight or obesity and the costs to the health service of treating the long-term effect of poor diet now estimated to be over £360 million.

“Food Standards Scotland welcomes the news that Scottish Government are making commitments to progress actions with the ‘out of home’ sector which are essential steps needed to improve the food environment to one that enables healthier choices.

“While we recognise there has been a significant disruption during the pandemic, the rise in takeaway and delivery services means it is critical we work with the sector to take steps that support a healthy diet and healthy weight.”

Public Health Scotland chief executive, Angela Leitch, added: “We have a shared national ambition in Scotland to be a country where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active.

“Local takeaway businesses, cafes, restaurants and others in the out-of-home sector continue to play an important role in supporting changes that will help improve our diet and, in turn, maintain a healthy weight.”