To combat the rising tide of nutrition-related diseases and obesity in India, researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, Melbourne Centre for Behaviour Change, UNICEF, and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, have unveiled a comprehensive study proposing a new Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling System (FoPLs) tailored for the Indian context. This initiative aims to empower consumers with easily understandable information to make healthier food choices in a country grappling with a surge in processed and unhealthy food consumption.
India, the world’s most populous nation, currently lacks a mandatory FoPL system. However, the findings, recently published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, are poised to shape the government’s strategy in implementing a robust FoPL system. The move is part of a broader campaign to promote informed decision-making on packaged food purchases and foster healthier dietary habits among the population.
The researchers emphasize the urgency of addressing the shifting dietary landscape in India, marked by an increasing reliance on processed foods. This shift has contributed to a surge in nutrition-related diseases and obesity. To counteract this trend, the government has committed to developing a FoPL system, a crucial step towards providing consumers with vital nutritional information and encouraging healthier food choices.
The study involved a survey of 1,270 adults from diverse regions of India, evaluating five distinct front-of-pack nutrition labels currently in use worldwide. The labels were adapted to suit the unique dietary preferences and cultural nuances of the Indian populace. The standout performer among these labels was the two-colour Multiple Traffic Lights label, proving to be the most effective in terms of both objective knowledge and influencing food choice.
Central to the success of the proposed FoPL system is the use of color-coding, with the two-colour Traffic Lights label proving to be highly effective in aiding interpretation and decision-making. The study underscores the significance of color as a tool for conveying nutritional information, making it accessible and easily comprehensible for a diverse range of consumers.
“D Praveen, a researcher at The George Institute for Global Health,” highlighted the study’s conclusive findings, stating, “Through extensive consultation with a diverse spectrum of Indian consumers, our study has conclusively shown that a two-colour label utilizing a traffic light format not only provides useful information but is also widely deemed effective, useful, and likable by most respondents.”
These findings, the researchers assert, should serve as a critical reference for the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the government as they collaborate to develop and implement the FoPL system. The overarching goal is to equip Indian consumers with easily accessible and understandable information about the nutritional value of packaged foods, fostering healthier eating habits and curbing the rise in diet-related illnesses.
The unveiling of a tailored Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling System in India marks a pivotal moment in the nation’s quest for healthier dietary habits. With a focus on clarity, accessibility, and cultural relevance, the proposed FoPL system stands to revolutionize how consumers make informed choices, heralding a new era of nutritional awareness and well-informed eating habits across the diverse landscape of India.