Steven Miller is a weight loss expert in the U.K. He thinks it’s his business, maybe even duty, to make fat people change their order when dining in restaurants. He is alarmed at the obesity rate in his country and, as a weight loss expert, appalled that efforts to help fat people lose weight are not more forceful. He has an idea to change that and wants the Minister of Health, Jeremy Hunt, to put it into action.
His concern for obese folks has him insisting that menus need to be treated like cigarette packages and should be plastered with warning labels.
Miller is a sizist who calls himself a “weight loss expert.” I don’t think his expertise in weight loss comes from a place of wanting to help overweight people. It comes from a place of distaste for people whom he judges to be too fat.
Although I’m sure he has found some support for his idea, effective weight loss experts know that it would cause more harm than good. It might shame a few fat diners into changing their orders, and at the same time likely increase their perception of their low self-worth. That’s the problem; research shows confident people make better choices. It would be counterproductive.
I don’t think it’s the job of a restaurant to educate its guests on healthy living or weight loss, although many diners do happen to be very interested in those things. I don’t think it’s the role of our government to try to influence how we order with mandatory menu labeling of calories. Restaurants may choose to support those goals for those guests who care about those things and I love it when they do.
The Maine Restaurant Association initiated a great program years ago called Diner’s Choice. It was an agreement that participating restaurants would train their serving staff so that they could explain the ingredients and method of preparation for the menu items. They would also be able to suggest some ways to create the dish reducing the fat and calories by making substitutions.
Perhaps the best thing about Diner’s Choice participating restaurants was how accommodating they would be of guest’s dietary needs and requests. Anything from asking to have sauces on the sides, make substitutions, allow sharing (with or without an extra plate charge), put less on a plate and box up the rest before serving the meal would be greeted with a cheery smile and the words, “you bet!”
It died due to lack of interest or perhaps due to lack of publicity. I don’t know how many people were even aware of the program or which were the participating restaurants. I’m sure some would argue that’s exactly why Miller’s plan is needed. I maintain it would do more harm than good.
Do you agree or disagree with Miller? What’s your opinion?