Teenage girls have notoriously been discredited, concerns they voice are seen as frivolous, and their interests are side-lined as shallow and meaningless. Whilst, fangirling over the latest Harry Styles song or the Twilight movie saga is continually invalidated socially, when teenage girls voiced their concerns over the implementation of the government act forcing all food establishments to publish calories on their menus if they have over 250 employees, they were met with the same negation.
As we live in a society that hyper-fixates on teenage girl’s appearances targeting them with magazines citing the best diet tips and publicly shaming celebrity beach photos, we should come to expect the negative impacts this glass box of worth we have placed on adolescents has produced.
The number of eating disorders, primarily Anorexia Nervosa and Bulima Nervosa, is starkly rising whilst simultaneously, the funding into research and help for those suffering is limited as highlighted by the UK charity BEAT who found that just £1.13 was spent on research per individual suffering from an eating disorder.
So, as we see socially a new wave of active neglection of the 90s aesthetic that saw a glorification of diet culture and flat stomachs famously celebrated by supermodel Kate Moss who exclaimed “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” a comment she has since outwardly regretted saying, there was no surprise that a storm of protest and online backlash came after the first days of the governments new act against obesity premiered.
The government holds the position that by publishing calorie information on menus this will persuade people to make healthier decisions whilst eating out and will in the end help to curb the obesity crisis in our country. Although, from the outset this can be seen to be a positive movement and an honest attempt to aid those who are suffering with a lack of healthy food education, in actuality all this new act provides is a culture of guilt and does nothing to fix the underlying issues causing the rise of obesity.
The current government through this act are placing complete blame for rising obesity, especially within children on food establishments. In reality these issues can be retaliated back onto the government themselves, we are currently experiencing a cost-of-living crisis where the price of fruit and vegetables is exponentially rising. A punnet of grapes at Aldi, one of the cheapest UK supermarkets currently costs £1.49, this is in comparison to a McDonald’s hamburger which costs £0.89.
As long as we live in a UK that prioritises cheap fast-food options instead of placing the money into promoting and allowing nutritious food options to be readily accessible, it is perfectly understandable why families are resorting to less healthy food options. If our leaders placed more emphasis on food education within schools and better advertising on balanced diets, they could tackle the roots of obesity issues.
Yet, once again, our government has established a lack of simple understanding into the roots of these issues instead choosing to place a plaster on a tsunami of bigger issues that broaden from individuals to wider societal pressures and standards. They once again frivolously shadow the issue of disordered eating by allowing restaurants to hold menus without calories if a customer specifically asks for one, ignoring the social anxiety that often arises alongside other disorders.
By implementing this decision, the government is placing subconscious guilt indiscriminately into those who suffer from issues with eating and those who don’t. Ultimately, in ten or twenty years when they are faced with an epidemic of an underweight generation and desperately attempt to find cause, they will only need to look in the mirror.