We developed the NOURISHING framework to highlight where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets and reduce overweight and obesity.
The framework is accompanied by a regularly updated database (last updated 21 February 2018), providing an extensive overview of implemented government policy actions from around the world.
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The evidence suggests people who want to eat well use nutrient lists to choose healthier options. Interpretative labels help them when they find the labels hard to understand. Nutrition labels also create incentives for food manufacturers to reformulate their products, so helping populations more broadly by increasing the availability of food of higher nutritional value.
Clear standards are also needed on the use of nutrient and health claims. Evidence shows these claims alter the perception people have of these products – making it essential that they do not mislead.
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*Most other countries follow Guideline CAC/GL 2-1985 from the Codex Alimentarius Commission in requiring nutrition labels only when a nutrition or health claim is made and/or on food with special dietary uses
Producers and retailers are required by law to provide a list of the nutrient content of pre-packaged food products (with limited exceptions), even in the absence of a nutrition or health claim. The rules define which nutrients must be listed and on what basis (eg per 100g/per serving).
Huang L et al. (2014) A systematic review of the prevalence of nutrition labels and completeness of nutrient declarations on pre-packaged foods in China. Journal of Public Health 37(4), 649-658
A regulation of the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador published in November 2013 (No. 4522, El Reglamento de Etiquetado de Alimentos Procesados) requires packaged food to carry a “traffic light” label in which the levels of fats, sugar and salt are indicated by red (high), orange (medium) or green (low). Full compliance with the regulation was required by 29 August 2014.
Added February 2018: Freire WB, Waters WF, Rivas-Mariño G, Nguyen T, & Rivas P (2017) A qualitative study of consumer perceptions and use of traffic light food labelling in Ecuador. Public health nutrition, 20(5), 805-813
We are all influenced by the food that is available and affordable when we grow up, and the habits of the people around us. That’s why people in different countries and communities consume differently. We know that when the food supply changes, so does what people eat. This is why we need to improve the quality of the food supply. Evidence from salt reduction indicates that people’s tastes can change.
Ecuador has a national salt reduction programme, which includes voluntary agreements with bread and sausage producers to reduce salt in their products.