Asking processed food firms to cut calories voluntarily hasn't worked

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By Krista Charles

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Voluntary targets to trim the calorie oregon sweetener contented of nutrient look not to work

Stephen French/Alamy

Encouraging nutrient manufacturers to voluntarily trim the calories, sweetener oregon brackish contented of their products doesn’t work. That’s according to an investigation of changes successful the nutritional content of nutrient and drinks sold successful English supermarkets betwixt 2015 and 2018.

Over the years, Public Health England, a authorities agency, has acceptable voluntary targets for reducing the calories, sweetener and brackish contented of processed foods sold successful the country. The voluntary targets were acceptable successful the hopes of encouraging manufacturers to alteration the nutritional contented of their products alternatively than forcing reformulations.

Lauren Bandy and her colleagues astatine the University of Oxford person present assessed the interaction of the targets.

“We fundamentally recovered that determination wasn’t truly overmuch change,” says Bandy. “The lone alteration that we could spot was with brushed drinks.”

The brushed portion alteration whitethorn beryllium due to the fact that sugary drinks person been taxable to a UK tax introduced successful 2018, she says.

The researchers observed a tiny summation successful the fig of products classified by the UK authorities arsenic steadfast connected the ground of their nutrient profile, from 46 per cent successful 2015 to 47 per cent successful 2018. There was besides an summation successful the merchantability of steadfast products, from 44 per cent successful 2015 to 51 per cent successful 2018. They attributed these increases to the sweetener reductions successful brushed drinks encouraged by the 2018 tax.

“We request carrots arsenic good arsenic sticks erstwhile seeking to code the UK’s [obesity-generating] nutrient environment,” says Stuart Gillespie astatine the International Food Policy Research Institute successful Washington DC. “But erstwhile it comes to large food, the instrumentality – successful the signifier of a government-mandated taxation – is acold much effective.”

The products the squad evaluated were from a fig of nutrient and beverage companies and didn’t see supermarket “own” brands.

“Some probe has antecedently shown that private-label brands tin often beryllium healthier than their branded counterparts,” says Elizabeth Dunford astatine the George Institute for Global Health successful Australia.

Journal reference: PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0254833

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