durum wheat pasta lunch

Diabetes UK has called on the biggest food outlets to take action so customers can make healthier choices when eating out

Health campaigners have urged the out-of-home sector to “recognise its responsibility” to tackle the obesity crisis, after a survey showed more than 60% of customers struggled to find information on the nutritional contents of food brought from restaurants, cafés and takeaways.

Diabetes UK also reported that almost half of consumers eat dinner out once a week or more and called on the biggest food outlets in the out-of-home sector to take action so customers made healthier choices.

As part of its Food Upfront campaign, the charity said it had contacted 24 of the biggest out-of-home outlets to urge them to introduce calorie labelling on menus, or at point of purchase.

It also wants restaurants to introduce information on carb content on menus and use a traffic light system, in store and online, showing fat, salt and sugar content information.

Read more: Deliveroo to add takeaway food calorie counts

Its new survey showed 79% of respondents agreed that the industry had a responsibility to make their food and drink healthier, with 90% saying traffic light food labelling would help them make more informed decisions.

It found 76% thought restaurants and cafés should display calorie information on their menus.

Yesterday it was revealed takeaway calorie counts are to be made available by up to 500 restaurants, including Burger King and KFC in a new feature on Deliveroo’s website and app.

Yo Sushi, Pho, Jamie’s Italian and Barburrito are also among the restaurants to have committed to show customers dish-by-dish calorie content in a new menu system to be introduced by the takeaway delivery company from next month.

Read more: Sugar campaigners demand transparency after out-of-home milkshake study

Diabetes UK assistant director of campaigns and mobilisation Helen Dickens said: “With three in five people struggling to find information about what’s in the food they’re eating out, the industry has a responsibility to help customers eat as healthily as possible and tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic.

“We’ve written to the biggest outlets in the sector, urging them to take the initiative by adopting our Food Upfront pledge, which would ensure that information about the nutritional content of food consumers buy in restaurants, cafés and takeaways is easily accessible and understandable.

“The UK public tell us they love eating out, and regularly. But without the information available to make healthy choices, it can be a minefield. Our Food Upfront pledge can help change this, and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all consumers.”