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Opinion
Therese Raphael

Do Menu Calorie Counts Actually Change How We Eat?

A new rule over food labeling in the U.K. is stirring debate. But small changes, like calories, can add up over time. 

Counting.

Counting.

Photographer: Noam Galai/Getty Images North America

After he emerged from his Covid hospital stay in 2020, Boris Johnson announced his determination to tackle obesity in Britain. There was no doubting the urgency: Britain has the third-highest levels of obesity in Europe, with around three quarters of adults either overweight or obese.

It was already becoming clear that obesity risked worse Covid outcomes and added pressure to Britain’s already creaking National Health Service, which spends around 10 billion pounds ($13 billion) a year on diabetes — more than it spends on cancer treatment.