According to a latest oxford study, the packaged Food and Beverage goods sold in India are the least healthy in terms of the levels of salts, sugar and saturated fat contents in it. The survey collected data from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, India, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, the UK, and USA. Through Health Star Rating (HSR) nutrient profiling system, the data of 2013-18 was collected.
The study which was published in “Obesity Reviews” used Australian health star rating to conduct a research on over 400,000 food and beverage items from 12 countries to rate them. It rated them according to the levels of energy, saturated fat, total sugars and sodium contents.
The countries which ranked highest in terms of nutrients are the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. However, India, Hong Kong, China and Chile ranked lowest. Chinese packaged foods and beverages had the highest saturated fat and sugar content, while India ranked highest in energy content. The UK had the lowest sugar content followed by Canada and Slovenia.
“Many of the world's large food and beverage manufacturers have signed up to the International Food and Beverage Alliance, and have made pledges to reduce levels of nutrients of concern such as sodium, saturated fat and sugar and these findings identify some immediate opportunities for action,” the report published on the medical journal said.
The author Dr Elizabeth Dunford was concerned about how packaged foods and drinks are driving a double burden of diet-related diseases in many low and middle-income countries.
“Globally we’re all eating more and more processed foods and that’s a concern because our supermarkets shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick. Our results show that some countries are doing a better job than others. Unfortunately it’s the poorer nations that are least able to address the adverse health consequences that have the unhealthiest foods.” she said.
Prof Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director of the George Institute for Global Health, India said, “This study is a wake-up call for countries like India where the packaged food industry is burgeoning and expanding its reach to small towns and villages.”
“Policymakers and the food industry need to work together to reformulate products to reduce the ever increasing risk of obesity and its consequences,” he added.