Mar 07 2012
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Calorie count on menus may become must
What the elected representatives find alarming is the rising incidence of obesity and diseases like diabetes, especially among the younger segment of the population. And since these are lifestyle diseases mainly caused by large intake of junk food, the people's representatives say greater awareness in society is needed.
A proposal is being discussed by the Central Municipal Council (CMC) to make it mandatory for all international fast food chains operating here to include in their menu cards the calorific values and ingredients of all items.
And once the proposal is approved by the CMC and the authorities implement it, the House will press for making it compulsory in respect of fast and fried food items being sold at all the eateries in the country, said Al Malki.
Al Malki said he presented the proposal to the House as an increasing number of people have been complaining of the harmful effects of fast food, especially the harm it brings to the health of children.
Obesity and rising cases of diabetes among youngsters are a major health issue in the country and medical experts largely attribute these and other diseases like high cholesterol and stiffness of arteries to fast food intake.
According to Al Malki, after the CMC approves the proposal it will be referred to the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning and if they choose to suggest some amendments, the proposal will eventually be sent to the State Cabinet.
Nutritionists and medical fraternity sources, while lauding the CMC for its initiative, say that people have no idea that a half-pound cheese burger with a big portion of fries along with a soft drink can, for instance, contain as many as 1,500 'empty calories'.
This is the amount of calories an average person needs to have in the whole day. "And remember that these are all 'empty calories'", said a nutritionist.
"Fad food calories don't have any micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals," said the nutritionist not wanting to be named. Fast food also contains a lot of sodium which is not good for health.
Global fast food chains don't mention the calorific values of their dishes since they don't want to lose customers, said the nutritionist.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules in place for fad food joints to declare the calorific values and ingredients of their food items but it doesn't force these outlets to abide by these regulations, he said.
© The Peninsula 2012
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