UK Hospitality has said any proposed calorie cap for out-of-home eating and drinking is a “knee-jerk, impractical and unfair measure”.

It follows a report by the chief medical officer which contains proposals aimed at tackling childhood obesity, including a calorie cap per serving of food and drink and a review of VAT rates on food and drink.

“A blanket cap on calories for all portions of food and drink consumed out-of-home sounds like a knee-jerk, impractical and unfair measure,” said UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls.

“We are supportive of measures to tackle childhood obesity, but a cap on all portions clearly removes choice for all customers irrespective of age.

“Such a cap would cause problems for businesses, not to mention the obvious reduction in choice for customers and restricting of personal freedoms for adults who should be able to choose for themselves.

“We certainly welcome the opportunity for the hospitality sector to work with the government to tackle childhood obesity. Promoting healthier attitudes to food and drink is important for hospitality businesses.

“Many businesses have been working hard to cut calories from their menus and provide greater choice for customers and we are keen to continue that work.

“Reducing the rate of VAT for healthier options on menus could be a good way to promote healthier choices. We would certainly be interested in exploring options to reduce costs for businesses providing healthy food and drink for customers.

“Many businesses have been hammered by increasing costs, so making it cheaper and easier for them to provide healthy options would be a good move.”