Scientists identify effective nutrition labels for India’s diverse population

Researchers have unveiled a groundbreaking front-of-pack nutrition label (FoPL) system tailored specifically for India, aimed at promoting healthier food choices and combating the rise of nutrition-related diseases and obesity in the country.

Commissioned by the World Health Organization, India, a team of researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, Melbourne Center for Behavior Change, UNICEF, and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease conducted an extensive study to develop the new FoPL system.

India, home to the world’s largest population, has experienced a significant shift in dietary habits, with an alarming increase in the consumption of processed and unhealthy foods. In response, the Indian government is taking proactive measures to implement a comprehensive front-of-pack nutrition labeling system.

The study involved surveying 1,270 adults from different regions of India to evaluate five different FoPLs currently in use worldwide, adapted to suit the Indian context. The findings, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, revealed that a two-color Multiple Traffic Lights label outperformed other labels in terms of objective knowledge and food choice results.

“Our study has conclusively shown that a two-color label utilizing a traffic light format not only provides useful information but is also widely deemed effective, useful, and likable by most respondents,” said D Praveen, a researcher at The George Institute for Global Health.

The importance of incorporating color into the design of the new nutrition label cannot be overstated. All the FoPLs examined in the study had positive effects on perception, choice, and objective comprehension, indicating the potential of such labels to assist consumers in making healthier food choices.

These findings are expected to guide the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Indian government as they work towards the creation of a front-of-pack nutrition labeling system. The ultimate objective is to empower Indian consumers with easily accessible and understandable information about the nutritional content of packaged foods, thereby promoting healthier eating habits and curbing diet-related illnesses.

(With inputs from PTI)