Prepare for legislation to tackle obesity, Euromonitor warns industry

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Average calorie intakes are predicted to rise in the next 5 years - but they need to fall in order to cut obesity rates
Average calorie intakes are predicted to rise in the next 5 years - but they need to fall in order to cut obesity rates

Related tags: Nutrition

Tighter legislation seems inevitable in order to cut calories and reduce obesity rates, according to a new analysis from Euromonitor International.

The market researcher has released a new research tool called Passport Nutrition​, which analyses nutritional intakes from packaged foods in 54 countries, the nutritional composition of 57,000 food products, and nutritional information by company and brand. Specifically, it analyses seven nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fibre, fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar) and energy in packaged foods and soft drinks.

Based on current trajectories, it forecasts that if the calorie content of packaged foods does not change over the next five years, the average global consumer will be buying 90 more calories a day in 2019 compared to 2014 – although removing an average of 100 calories a day from Western diets would be needed to halt the rise of obesity.

If obesity rates are to be lowered, tighter legislation seems inevitable,”​ Euromonitor said.

“The public health and economic cost of diet related disease is growing and so changes to agricultural subsidies, taxes and marketing restrictions are being considered by policy makers. The rest of the food system needs to increase its current efforts if it is to avoid this, or take action to prepare the business for a tighter regulatory environment.”

Among suggested actions for industry to avoid legislation, it said small and medium-sized companies should follow the example of larger food manufacturers, which already had made efforts to reformulate and clearly label products. It also said retailers should consider health when deciding which items to place in promotional and impulse purchase positions in-store.

The researcher found the average global consumer buys 765 calories in packaged foods each day, but this varies widely from country to country. In the United States and Western Europe, consumers buy more than 1,500 calories from packaged food on average, compared with 150 in India and 510 in China.

On a global level, bakery is the largest contributor to total calories from packaged food, averaging 200 calories a day, with bread accounting for about half of that. Oils and fats are the second biggest contributing category, while dairy, soft drinks and confectionery combined account for about a quarter of the total.

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