Could Traffic Light Labeling Help Brits Eat More Healthily
As part of their drive to improve the nation’s diet and reduce the rising levels of obesity in the UK, the government has confirmed that a consistent system of front-of-pack food labeling will be introduced next year. This will be a voluntary scheme as Department of Health has explained that a mandatory system would require agreement at the European level. Nevertheless, ministers have indicated that they have the support of the food industry.
How will food labeling work?
The idea is to make it simple to recognise and choose the most appropriate foods.
Using a traffic light colour-coding, (green = low, yellow = medium, red = high) front-of pack indicators will be provided for:
- calorie content
- fat – including saturated fats
The idea of food labeling is not new. Some retailers and manufacturers already use various forms of “traffic-light” labeling, where less healthy foods are labelled red and the most healthy are green. The guideline daily amounts – or GDAs – are also in common use. These give the percentage of recommended intake. However, a move to a consistent system is intended to give standardisation of information with a common label design which consumers grow to recognise; the design of which has yet to be finalised.
More information from NHS.
The new labelling system is expected to be introduced during the summer of 2013, although some retailers including Tesco and Lidl have already announced earlier plans.
However, critics of the “traffic light labeling” scheme approach have pointed out that portion sizes can often not reflect how much people actually eat, so a product that may show as “yellow” would in fact be “red” if a large portion were consumed.
Weight Loss Experts
A spokesperson said:
“We welcome the move towards clearer food labeling. Any measure that makes it easier for people to choose the right foods for a healthy diet has to be positive and we look forward to seeing the labeling in action.”
“For effective weight loss, making healthy food choices is just one part of the equation. Managing portion size is vital to maintaining a healthy weight; as well as having an active lifestyle.”
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