Indian packaged food least healthy: Study
George Institute for Global Health analysed over 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries and territories globally for the study. It found that UK topped the list of countries with healthier packaged food.Updated: Aug 22, 2019 04:52 IST
Packaged food and drinks in India are the least healthy with high levels of saturated fat, sugar, and salt, an Oxford University study has found.
The university’s George Institute for Global Health analysed over 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries and territories globally for the study. It found that the UK topped the list of countries with healthier packaged food and drinks, followed by the US and Australia.
The countries were ranked using Australia’s Health Star Rating system, which measures the levels of the nutrients like energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat as well as protein, calcium and fibre and assigns a star rating from ½ (least healthy) to 5 (the most healthy).
The study published in Obesity Reviews, a peer-reviewed medical journal,gave the UK the highest rating of 2.83, followed by the US (2.82) and Australia (2.81). India got the lowest rating (2.27) followed by China (2.43) and Chile (2.44).
China’s packaged food and beverages were found to have the most harmful levels of saturated fat, the study said. It added China also scored worst for average sugar levels at 8.5 grams per 100 grams. India was ranked second at 7.3 grams per 100 grams.
India’s packaged foods and drinks are most energy-dense, the study found.
“Globally we are all eating more and more processed food and that is a concern because our supermarket shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick,” said the study’s lead author, Elizabeth Dunford.
“Our results show that some countries are doing a much better job than others. Unfortunately, it is the poorer nations that are least able to address the adverse health consequences that have the unhealthiest foods.”
Bruce Neal, the study’s co-author, said that packaged food progressively dominating the world’s food supply means there is a real cause for concern. “Billions of people are now exposed to very unhealthy food on a daily basis. The obesity crisis is just the first ripple of a tsunami of dietary ill health that is coming for us.”
Neal underlined the need for finding a way that the food industry can profit from selling rational quantities of quality food, rather than deluging people with unhealthy junk. “There are few greater priorities for human health.’’
The study noted that many of the world’s major food and drink manufacturers have signed up for the International Food and Beverage Alliance, pledging to reduce levels of salt, sugar and harmful fat. It hoped that the findings of the study could provide an impetus for companies to improve the healthiness of their product ranges.