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Friday, March 01 2024

Indians want warning labels on packaged food to be mandatory: AIIMS study

Indians want warning labels on packaged food to be mandatory AIIMS study
Photo Credit : IANS

New Delhi: A whopping 93 per cent Indians agree that simple Front of Pack Labelling (FOPL) on all food and beverage is a necessity, according to a study by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) released on Monday.

An FOPL is regarded as the most effective policy solution which can inform consumers in an easy-to-understand manner about high levels of sugar, sodium, and saturated fat that may be present and discourage the purchase of unhealthy packaged food.

The study comes at a time when India is deliberating on an FOPL policy and public health experts across the world are keenly watching India’s choice of label design.

In a unique initiative, the researchers conducted a survey involving varied demographics across 15 states, to determine what type of labelling system would be most effective for Indians.

The respondents were asked to choose among various FOPL designs such as the multicoloured traffic light system or the star rating system, and the ‘high-in style’ warning labels emerged the clear winner.

The study revealed that people are ready to make healthier food choices and find ‘simple awarning labels’ as easy to read and understand.

Majority of Indians chose ‘high-in warning labels for salt, sugar, fats’ as the easiest to understand.

“An overwhelming majority are of the opinion that FOPL should be made mandatory and 87 per cent find nutrition labelling helpful. Applauding this initiative as timely,” said Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor, Community Medicine, AIIMS, in a statement.

“As doctors, we are witnessing the debilitating impact caused by excessive consumption of foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fats, on the health of this country, particularly on our youth and children,” added Dr Pradeep Agarwal, from AIIMS Rishikesh.

More than 5.8 million Indians die every year from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. By 2024, the diabetic population of the country is estimated to hit almost 70 million and India is already emerging as the obesity capital of the world. Heart attack and stroke are also the top killers in the country.

Most of these deadly diseases, although hard to treat, can be prevented by modifying diets and supporting a healthier, sustainable food system.

Considered to be practical and inexpensive, FOPL is quickly gaining traction world over as an effective tool with cascading health benefits for the population.

More than eight countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Turkey have already adopted mandatory FOPLs and are in the process of regulating all foods and beverages.


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