Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Is the obesity battle lost?

The Journal

Last week’s announcement that by next summer we will have a consistent system of food labelling indicating the calories, fat, salt and sugar content of products is long overdue. Although the UK already has the largest number of products with labels in Europe, research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety used.

The delay — the issue has been under discussion for at least 10 years — has partly been a result of the fact that signing up to the scheme has been voluntary. One commentator noted: “This is a triumph for public health and common sense — but it just goes to show how the voluntary approach can be so much slower than government regulation.”  The powers that be are now confident that they have persuaded the food industry to come on board.

People advocating a consistent labelling system believe (or hope) that it will help with tackling the rising rates of obesity, on account of which, as far as Europe is concerned, the UK is facing a particular crisis.

Will standardisation of the labels make that much difference? Effective health campaigns in the UK have all been supported by legislation: stopping smoking, wearing seat-belts and tackling drink-driving, is, by regulating behaviour. Although the new system may help people understand what each product contains and help them decide what to buy, will it make any difference to what they actually eat? Preventing people from buying and eating unhealthy food would be impossible.

And could the new system have any impact on pharmacy? Those pharmacists who are already trying to support their obese or overweight patients may find it easier to explain how different products could fit into a balanced diet. But, if high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar products are to remain unregulated, the battle may already be lost.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11110193

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.