New UK nutrition guidelines target obesity crisis

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Igd

New guideline daily amounts (GDAs) on food packaging in the UK will
empower consumers with vital nutritional knowledge and help cut
rocketing obesity rates.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and research organisation IGD are both confident that better information on calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein and sugars, fibre and salt in processed food will help consumers to better balance their diet.

They will enable consumers to check and compare the contents of food as well as work out how much a portion contains in relation to the guidance for a daily amount.

The first labels will be issued in early 2006.

"We welcome this new research showing what on-pack information consumers find most useful and look forward to seeing the guidance,"​ said Food and Drink Federation deputy director general Martin Paterson.

"Food and drink manufacturers' live or die by understanding and reacting to their customers needs. This research underlines action already taken by industry to provide useful GDA information to consumers.

" The FDF Delivering on Our Commitments report revealed that £15bn worth of products will have GDAs on pack by end of 2006."

Equipping consumers with nutritional knowledge is now a key component of the battle to beat rising obesity rates. Figures released in March by the International Obesity Task Force (IOFT) show that the number of overweight European kids is still rising by 400,000 a year.

The British Medical Association, representing about three quarters of UK doctors, said that if current trends continue, at least one fifth of boys and one third of girls in Britain will be obese by 2020. Diseases related to obesity are currently costing the NHS over £500 million a year and shortening lives.

Food manufacturers and retailers were brought together by food industry research organisation IGD to work with nutritionists, scientists and researchers to establish what kind of helpful information should be put on food labels beyond the legally required details.

An agreement was reached some years ago to provide certain types of information on food labels, and this week's announcement extends that agreement to encompass a much wider range of information.

"We have been working with the industry for many years to develop helpful information for consumers on food packaging,"​ said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD.

"The food industry has given its widespread support and commitment to providing this valuable extra information.

"GDAs translate the science into consumer-friendly information so we can all keep track of our eating habits, by comparing the contents of food with the GDA. That information will be printed simply and clearly on the back of the pack or tin.

"IGD is in the process of developing a practical guide that will recommend the best way to present this information on pack, balancing consumer requirements with on-pack space and design restraints."

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) is also backing the initiative.

"We share the objective of helping consumers to make healthy dietary choices and welcome IGD's work to add further information on the back of packs,"​ said FSA chair Dame Deirdre Hutton.

"It is fully compatible with the FSA's research into front of pack and we will be announcing the results of our programme very shortly."

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