Scientists identify effective nutrition labels for India's diverse population

India looks to roll out easy-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labels (FoPLs), addressing a rise in nutrition-related diseases and obesity in the country.

Representative image of processed foods (Photo: DW)
Representative image of processed foods (Photo: DW)


Researchers have designed new front-of-pack nutrition labels (FoPLs) for India that are easy to understand and can promote healthier food choices.

FoPLs of different types highlighting various components of packaged food are in use in many parts of the world. They are mandatory in some countries and voluntarily applied by manufacturers in others.

FoPLs provide key information on food components that consumers can use to make choices and purchasing decisions, such as avoiding unhealthy options and choosing healthier ones.

India, which does not have an FoPL system in place yet, intends to implement one to promote informed decision-making on packaged food purchasing, as part of promoting healthier diets in the population, the researchers said.

Commissioned by the World Health Organization, India, researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, Melbourne Center for Behavior Change, UNICEF, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, conducted the study.

The findings, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, can inform the government's selection of a new FoPL system for India to give consumers easier access to nutritional information and healthier food options.

The world's most populous nation, India, has seen a marked change in eating habits, with a rise in the intake of processed and unhealthy foods. Nutrition-related diseases and obesity are becoming more prevalent, the researchers said.

To solve this issue, the government is developing and putting into place a front-of-pack nutrition labelling system, they said.

The study included a survey of 1,270 adults from different regions of India to evaluate five different front-of-pack nutrition labels in use in different parts of the world, adapted to the Indian context.

It found the two-colour Multiple Traffic Lights label outperformed other labels, it was found to be the most successful in terms of both objective knowledge and food choice results.

The study emphasises how crucial it is to use colour to help with interpretation when creating the new nutrition label that will be placed on products packaging in India.

All front-of-pack nutrition labels that were examined had positive effects on perception, choice, and objective comprehension results. This highlights the potential contribution of such labels to helping consumers make healthier food choices.

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