Packaged food in India found least healthy: Survey

Packaged food in India found least healthy: Survey

Agency News

New Delhi, Aug 21: Packaged food in India has been ranked lowest in terms of its healthiness in a global survey of packaged foods and drinks. The George Institute for Global Health analyzed more than 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries and territories around the world. Countries were ranked using Australia’s Health Star Rating system – which measures the levels of the nutrients such as energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat as well as protein, calcium and fiber and assigns a star rating from half (least healthy) to 5 (the most healthy).

The UK tops the charts, with the USA in second place and Australia coming in at third. The survey highlights the high levels of sugar, saturated fat, salt and calories in many of our favorite packaged food items. India’s packaged foods and drinks were found to be the most energy-dense (kilojoule content 1515 kJ/100 g) and South African products were least energy-dense at an average of 1044kJ/100 g. The UK had the highest average Health Star Rating of 2.83, followed by the US at 2.82 and Australia at 2.81.

India got the lowest rating of just 2.27 preceded by China at 2.43 with Chile coming third from bottom at 2.44. The results were published in Obesity Reviews. Lead author Dr Elizabeth Dunford said the results were concerning because 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.'' Reacting to the study findings, 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 needs to work together to reformulate products to reduce the ever increasing risk of obesity and its consequences.'' he added. UNI