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
In 2015, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) introduced the voluntary Weqaya food programme which allows food producers to use the Weqaya logo on products which satisfy the criteria set out in the Specification for using the Weqaya food programme (ADS 13/2015). The logo consists of a heart shape in which the word ‘Weqaya’ is written, meaning ‘prevention’ in Arabic. The specifications require that products must adhere to maximum levels of calories, total fat, saturated and trans fat, sodium, added, total and naturally occurring sugars, and cholesterol. In addition, they may not be deep fried or contain artificial sweeteners and flavours. Flour, rice and grain-based products must contain minimum amounts of whole grains and fibre to be permitted to bear the logo. The only beverages allowed under the programme are unsweetened 100% vegetable juices, and unsweetened low fat milk and other fermented dairy products.
We know from the evidence that making fruit and vegetables available in schools increases consumption. There is also evidence that food standards to restrict availability have the effect of reducing consumption of the restricted food.
For these actions to be effective for all children, they need to be sustained over time and accompanied by complementary behaviour change communication techniques, such as "modelling", school gardens, and communication to all stakeholders involved in the provision and consumption of school food. Worksites and healthcare also present strong potential for improved eating among adults.
The School Canteen Guidelines for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (2011–12) are set and revised by a joint committee of representatives from the Abu Dhabi Education Council, the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. The Guidelines set out the requirements vendors must meet to obtain a licence to operate in public and private school canteens. Parents may provide their children with their own packed meals as long as they are in line with the canteen guidelines. The Guidelines include calorie requirements for each grade, sample menus, a list of permissible and banned food by category, and nutrient-based standards (eg limits on total fat and sugar content; minimum amounts of macro and micro nutrients). The standards restrict the serving of many energy-dense food, soft drinks and fruit punch, as well as trans fats, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), preservatives, colours and artificial flavours, caffeine and hot and spicy sauces.
Empirical estimates show that food prices influence, to a varying degree, how much food people buy. Targeted subsidies have been shown to help overcome affordability barriers to healthy food for people on low incomes. Incentives, like financial rewards or price discounts, have also been shown to encourage people to switch to healthier options.
Emerging evidence from implemented taxes, as well as modelling studies, indicate the potential for effectiveness to reduce consumption. Given food choices are influenced by a whole host of factors, especially in modern, complex food markets, taxes must be designed very carefully to maximise effectiveness.
On 17 August 2017, the Federal Decree-Law No.(7) of 2017 on Excise Tax (“UAE Excise Tax Law”) was introduced. The UAE Excise Tax Law came into effect on 1 October 2017. The excise tax applies to the import, manufacture, stockpiling or release of excisable goods. While the law does not list the goods that will be subject to the excise tax, the Federal Tax Authority has outlined that a 50% tax will be applied to all carbonated drinks, and a 100% tax will be applied to energy drinks. Carbonated drinks include any aerated beverage except for unflavoured aerated water. This includes concentrations, powders, gel or extracts intended to be made into an aerated beverage. Energy drinks include beverages which are marked, or sold as an energy drink, and contain stimulant substances that provide mental and physical stimulation.