The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has proposed that food labelling should include activity-equivalent calorie information. However, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has met this proposal with a cautious response.
Information on food labels detailing nutritional information is a recently introduced regulation. One of the first regulations of this type was implemented in 1996. This made it compulsory that pre-packaged food display a product name, a date mark, the ingredients of the product, storage instructions, and any relevant manufacturing information.
This introduction has undoubtedly received a very positive response. We now live in an increasingly health-conscious age. People wish to be knowledgeable about exactly what is entering their bodies, and they want access to their food’s nutritional information, including micro and macro nutrients and whether the manufacturers used food processing machines.
Although there is a public demand for detailed nutritional information on food packaging, many people are essentially calorie illiterate, which means that they do not understand the principles surrounding the intake, storing and burning off of calories. People generally have little understanding of just how much physical input is required to burn off certain foods.
Positive Step Forward
The BBC points out that including activity-specific icons on packaging could have tremendous effects on those who already understand dietary principles. The proposed icons would detail how long the average individual would need to run, cycle or swim in order to burn off the calories ingested from a particular food source. This would help the consumer understand how the product was manufactured and the scientific dietary information behind it and also provide a simple understanding of the amount of energy contained in the food.
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A spokesman from the RSPH told Foodmanufacture.co.uk: “There is a big health inequality issue here otherwise, you reinforce the behaviour of those people who are already nutritionally literate, but you do nothing to help those consumers who are not and who need that information most urgently.”
Nevertheless, researchers still have some work to do in order to find the most effective ways of ensuring a healthy lifestyle for all consumers.