SIMPLIFYING food labels to make healthy choices easier for consumers is much needed and could make a big impact on communities, a leading Ballarat dietitian says.
Lake Health dietitian and practice manager Kerri Gordon welcomes a push from the state and national health ministers in Australia and New Zealand to review nutritional labelling, specifically when it comes to added sugars.
Ms Gordon said the existing five-star health rating on packaged products was confusing for a lot of people in determining what actually was a healthy choice and not just a healthier choice in comparison to less healthy alternatives.
"World Health Organisation has found for people who read nutritional labels it can help purchasing behaviour and anything that can help make better decisions is a good thing," Ms Gordon said.
"...Food labels can be difficult to understand and interpret and it can take a lot of time to read the food labels. People see dietitians to make it simpler."
Australia and New Zealand's ministerial forum on food regulation wants food standards authorities to look at a pictorial approach to labelling sugary foods. For example, multiple teaspoons of added sugar.
The idea is more broadly aimed at making it easier for consumers to distinguish between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars so they can weigh up how good or bad a product is for their health.
A traffic-light system, under Healthy Eating Advisory Service guidelines, has been rolled out at YMCA pools across the Grampians region and in Basketball Ballarat stadiums. Ballarat Health Services last week unveiled healthy vending machines, which stock predominantly green (best choice) snacks, meals and drinks, and less than 20 per cent red (limited) options.
Ms Gordon said such systems were great for promoting preventative health, more clearly allowing people to make healthier choices often with little time to make a decision.
- with AAP
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