The mortality rate from noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, remain unacceptably high and is on the increase. Ever wondered how or what can be done to reduce the burden of these noncommunicable diseases in our society? Population-wide interventions, such as the promotion of a healthy diet, through the provision of adequate nutrition information on food labels, is necessary to achieve this cause.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines food labelling as, any written, printed, or graphic matter that is present or accompanies a food product, or is displayed near the food, for the purpose of promoting its sale or disposal. Food labels inform consumers about what a product is made up of, as well as the nature of the product, for the consumer’s protection against misuse, risk, and abuse.
THE NEED FOR FOOD AND NUTRITION LABELING
In a longitudinal study conducted in the USA, on the effect of nutrition labeling and diseases, there was an association between the use of nutrition labels and a healthy diet. Several studies proved that thosewho use food labels, were found to make healthier food choices, to eat foods with healthy fats, less sodium, good cholesterol and an increased intake of fiber, iron, and vitamin C.
Individuals with healthier eating habits use nutrition labels more often than those that do not. The use of supplements and regular exercise have been associated with the use of nutrition labels.
What the food is, the manufacturer’s details, nutrition information, ingredients, weights and measurements of the product, date marking, directions for use and storage, country of origin, allergens and additives, and any nutrition and health claims will all be found on the food label. A food label contains all of the nutritional information for a particular food item. The information available varies depending on the food. Food labels contain product-specific information.
The nutrition facts on your food label include serving information, the number of calories in the product, the nutrients it contains, and the % daily value.
Ingredients are listed on food labels in descending order by weight, with the first ingredient having the most. Scanning the first three ingredients is a decent guideline because they make up the majority of what you’re eating.
So today, before you buy that biscuit, drink, chocolate, cereal…, do read that nutrition information (food label) on it!