Nutrition labelling is improving nation’s diet

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Nutritional info displayed prominently on meals merchandise which give customers info on salt, sugar and calorie content material play a big function in nudging individuals in direction of higher dietary decisions, in line with new analysis.

The research, from well being economists on the universities of Bath and Bristol printed within the Journal of Health Economics, is the primary to judge the impression of Front-of-Pack dietary labeling on retailers’ store-branded merchandise, which was first launched again in 2006.

Their outcomes discover a discount within the amount of labeled store-branded meals bought (for instance prepared meals, pizzas, burgers, and many others.) and an general enchancment within the dietary composition of customers’ buying baskets the place labeling was displayed. Significantly, these enhancements in meals buying habits had been most prominently noticed throughout poorer households.

In 2006, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) beneficial retailers to introduce Front-of-Pack (FOP) labeling on their store-brand merchandise on seven kinds of meals (prepared meals, burgers/sausages, pies, breaded/coated meats, pizzas, sandwiches and cereal). The advice was taken up by a number of UK retailers (Waitrose, Co-Op, Marks & Spencer, and Asda) who every launched it at totally different occasions between March 2006 and September 2007.

Retailers launched two kinds of dietary labeling. Some launched a Traffic Light System, a color-coded scheme denoting the quantity of vitamins by the colours crimson (excessive), amber (medium) and inexperienced (low), while some others launched a hybrid system incorporating each a and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs), the place each colours and the contribution that every of those vitamins make in direction of the grownup GDA had been displayed.

By drawing on variations noticed within the meals decisions of customers who shopped in shops the place labeling was displayed, to adjustments for customers buying elsewhere, the outcomes from the brand new research present that on common, on account of labeling, households improved the standard of their diet by lowering the entire month-to-month energy from labeled store-brand meals by 588 Kcal, saturated fat by 14g, sugars by 7g, and sodium by 0.8mg. Hybrid labeling was discovered to be simplest at shifting decisions.

The analysis comes because the UK authorities units out its new weight problems technique in response to covid-19, unveiling as a part of it plenty of measures together with menu calorie labeling to assist individuals make more healthy decisions when consuming out. The group behind the research say these new outcomes will help inform future insurance policies on this space.

Lead researcher, Dr. Eleonora Fichera from the Department of Economics on the University of Bath explains: “Our results suggest that nutritional labeling on food products can play an important role in starting to shift behaviors towards more healthier choices whether that be during the weekly shop in a supermarket, or potentially through new healthier menu choice options. Labeling has a dual effect in better informing consumers about the nutritional value of the products they put in their shopping basket, but it may also incentivise manufactures towards better quality .

“This of course is not a panacea to solve the obesity problem, which is multi-faceted and needs to be tackled with a much more systemic approach. But these results provide policymakers with further evidence that such measures can make an important contribution.”


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More info:
Eleonora Fichera et al, The response to dietary labels: Evidence from a quasi-experiment, Journal of Health Economics (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102326

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Nutrition labelling is improving nation’s diet (2020, August 12)
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