India has the unhealthiest packaged food, finds a global survey across 12 countries. Covering 400,000 food and drink items, the survey ranked countries as per the nutrient content in these products. Results showed that not only are packaged Indian food and drinks most energy dense, they also depict high levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat and calories. Poorer countries were found to be especially susceptible to unhealthy food. The UK topped the charts, followed by the US and Australia. China’s drinks were some of the healthiest in the survey.
TGI Global survey for food and beverages health
Our experience with junk food comes from working on eliminating tranfats which cause 77,000 preventable deaths each year. Since the time I got aware of level of unhealthiness in packaged food, I avoid them as plague. The level of sugar is too sweet for my taste buds now, and I can immediately feel affect of the unhealthy ingredients on lightness I feel in my body. I shudder at thought of unawareness spread across general public regarding unhealthiness of packaged food, small kids demanding sugary chocolates, refined flour fried noodles.
However, as we get deeper into this we realize that the job of FSSAI and food safety departments has been so far only to keep food safe (as the name suggests) and they are not concerned with the nutrition content of foods. This means that the food safety departments (food safety is state matter and FSSAI can only recommend issues to states and there is hardly any penalty for non-compliance) are mainly concerned and busy with raiding food adulterers. They are not concerned at all with the nutrient content of foods.
Indian Packaged Food, Drinks Worst Among 12 Countries
Most food manufacturers get their food tested themselves to create nutrient labels and these are hardly cross-checked or examined by any food regulator. Most food safety departments across states lack good laboratories (don’t have equipment or HR and most aren’t NABL accredited) to test food items. Even when funds are provided to open new labs, states don’t bother to ask for these funds. All this while, very strong food manufacturer lobbies advise the government on matters of food.
There should be no taking this study too personally as if it’s a topic which threatens anyone’s sentiments intentionally. I think logic and rationale mindset has been replaced by this ostrich behavior which we’ve been forced to live with. Loads of Sugar/ salt/ preservatives/ unseasoned produce and consumption is dangerous.
The fast food scourge is destroying the health of the young generation. As it is, they indulge in very less physical activity and addition of these sugar rich diets is going to make them susceptible to lifestyle diseases. Though the government will have to create an awareness and keep food standards strict, the real onus is on the parents to dissuade the children from picking up these bad habits. It is a social phenomenon and needs to be tackled accordingly.
There is no reason to get offended at the news of unhealthy packaged food in India, the effect of sugar, fat and salt on human body is an accepted scientific fact.
World Health Organisation (WHO)’s fact sheet on Salt reduction states, 2.5 million deaths could could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to recommended level of <5 g/day and even lesser for children. Countries have agreed to reduce global salt intake by 30% by 2025.
As for Sugar, there is absolutely no proven health benefits on consumption; so WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugar to less than 10% of total energy intake in both adults and children.
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Denying scientific facts such as these in the name of tradition and culture is beyond unreasonable and threads on the realm of insanity.
Of-course, debating on the accuracy of the figures in the survey, survey methodology, data, bias, vested interests are constructive than arguing about accepted facts.
Fast Food & Obesity are causes of major concerns in developed Countries.We got to take all precautions to overcome these new age diseases.Overall, the status of food regulation is limited and worrisome, and the journey from just food safety to nutrient safety is probably going to be a long one.