‘Activity equivalent’ food labelling proposed

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‘Activity equivalent’ food labelling proposed

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The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is calling for the introduction of ‘activity equivalent’ calorie labelling on food and drink packaging, to show how much activity would be required to burn off the calories contained in the products.

The proposals are part of the latest move to tackle the growing obesity crisis in the UK. The labels would take the form of prominent pictorial icons alongside existing front-of-pack information. The RSPH hopes this would simplify nutritional information for consumers, making it more relatable and therefore boosting healthy purchasing decisions, as well as increasing consumer awareness of calorie levels and helping to promote and normalise physical activity.

New research by the RSPH found two-thirds (63 per cent) of people would support the introduction of ‘activity equivalent’ labelling, with over half (53 per cent) saying it would cause them to make positive behaviour changes such as choosing healthier products, eating smaller portions or doing more physical exercise. The research also found people were three times more likely to indicate they would undertake physical activity after viewing ‘activity equivalent’ calorie labels than after viewing current ‘traffic light’ nutritional labels alone.

Shirley Cramer, RSPH chief executive, said: “Although nutritional information provided on food and drink packaging has improved, it is evident that it isn’t working as well as it could to support the public in making healthy choices. Activity equivalent calorie labelling provides a simple means of making the calories contained within food and drink more relatable to people’s everyday lives, while also gently reminding consumers of the need to maintain active lifestyles and a healthy weight.

“Given the responsibility of the food industry in tackling the obesity epidemic, we believe activity equivalent calorie labelling could provide the nudge many people need to be more active and support their customers to make healthier choices.”

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