Why front of pack labeling (FOPL) is important
With more than 135 million Indians obese and a sharp rise in childhood obesity, India is nearing a health flashpoint. Three conditions, namely high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and obesity, are the main drivers of this disease burden in India. Front-of-package warning labelling (FOPL) represents a key component of a comprehensive strategy to promote healthier lives, as it enables consumers to identify in a quick, clear and effective way, products high in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and total fats, the critical nutrients associated with the NCD burden in India.
Research evidence suggests that FOPL makes nutrition information more accessible to consumers. Using the FOPL, consumers can make informed and healthy food choices. They can pick food items that are low in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and sodium. Consumers can aim to have food items with low calories. Not only this, with the help of FOPLs, consumers can understand whether a food is specifically high in a nutrient, for example, protein or fiber, and compare it to other products as well.
FOPL symbol’s position on the food pack plays an essential role in capturing consumers’ attention. For example, when the position of FOPL is on the top right-hand side of the food pack (for individuals who read from left to right), its visibility increases. The size of the FOPL, compared to the other visual elements on the food pack, also plays a role in increasing its visibility.
FOPL targets to empower consumers to make informed and healthier food choices and motivate food manufacturers to work towards improving the nutrient profiles of their food products. Therefore, developing a FOPL scheme relevant for Indians and accessible to consumers from different socio-economic groups can enable them to make healthier and informed food choices.
To learn more about FOPL and if it can regulate the consumption of ultra-processed foods or foods high in high fat, sugar, and salt/sodium (HFSS), get a copy of the March 2021 Consumer VOICE English digital magazine.
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