Supermarkets join food experts in new bid to tackle UK obesity


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The Independent Online

New food labels could be set to hit the shelves as part of the fight against obesity. Supermarkets and nutrition experts will take part in a 12-week Government consultation launched today to devise a single system of displaying salt, fat, sugar and calories.

Although four out of five food UK food products are already marked with health information, differences between labelling systems could confuse customers and stop them from making healthy choices, said the Department of Health (DoH).

Some supermarkets and manufacturers indicate guideline daily amounts (GDAs) to give the percentage of recommended intake while others use traffic light systems.

But the DoH said one clear system, used across all products, would make it easier for shoppers to compare the health information on food they buy.

A spokesman said: "Being overweight and having an unhealthy diet can lead to serious illnesses such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. We must do everything we can to help people make healthier choices. Offering a single nutrition labelling system makes common sense, it would help us all to make healthier choices and keep track of what we eat."

Supermarkets and industry experts will discuss the best packaging design and how the scheme should be implemented. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said it is urging ministers and the food industry to back traffic light-coloured labels combined with GDAs and the words "high", "medium" and "low".

Julia Waltham, advocacy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This isn't about telling people what should or shouldn't be in their baskets. This is about making healthy choices easy for busy shoppers."