Food portion sizes, misleading labels and obesity numbers still continuing to rise

Food packaging labels should correspond to the serving guidelines given via the GDA and traffic light system. Issues are solely based around people misunderstanding what they’re reading and failing to follow the recommended serving sizes.
People may need to be more aware of food portion sizes and to take in consideration the information they’re being given. Daily guidelines are issued on most, if not all, food packaging in the UK, but how clear are they? Do we know what they mean?

Clearest labels issuing nutritional information for shoppers

We undertook a recent study on food packaging labels, showcasing the GDA and traffic light system. We found most people typically get confused by them or simply misunderstand the information they’re being provided with. Our survey found out which supermarket held the clearest nutritional and general information on their product labels.

1. Sainsbury’s – 38%
2. Asda – 37%
3. Tesco – 15%
4. Morrisons – 10%

To make this a fair survey, we blurred out the brand on the images when conducting the survey, making it completely anonymous. It appeared Morrisons lagged behind having the hardest to understand labelling.

Traffic light system

The traffic light system on packaged foods indicates how much fat, saturated fats, salt and sugars are contained in the food you’re buying, via colours of the traditional driving traffic light. Green represents a low intake, amber being moderate and red classed as a high intake.

How it works is based on all of the above, plus grams per serving, general size and weight of the portion of food. So, for example a green coloured section (representing low) typically contains less than 3g of fat, less than 1.5g of saturated fat, less than 5g of sugar and less than 0.3g of salt.

People often get confused by the guidelines being given as the information varies from product to product. We’ve found some people believe they should only go for green labelled foods, as it will benefit them and their health. Whilst this all sounds perfectly reasonable, there are general rules to follow. This may not be the case to just consider green labelled foods; you want to have a good clean balanced diet.

The traffic light system is probably not a way to substitute and follow a healthy plan; it’s more of an indication of how many fats, saturated fats and sugars are in your food and the salt intake you’re consuming.

GDA system

The GDA (guided daily amount) system is in place for people’s attention and for consideration. The numbers are based off the serving amount it suggests, per every serving, but some people are unaware of how it all works.

Taking Kellogg’s cereal, Crunchy Nut, as an example: this displays 45g per serving in which it gives you x amount of fat, x amount of saturated fat, x amount of sugars and so forth. But given the fact majority of people don’t typically measure their food intake, this information can lead people to believe this is what they’re gaining from every single bowl of cereal they’re having, whereas each serving isn’t measured accordingly.

If not followed accordingly, this can disrupt and affect fitness plans and diets. When committing yourself to a strict calorie-based diet, you want to be achieving the results you intended and making the numbers fit with your new diet. Faults happen due to people not measuring or considering the serving amount issued.

In most recent news, the topic of obesity has been brought to the forefront as numbers are still continuing to rise in Britain. The talks of 400, 600, 600 should be in place as a plan of attack, when battling against obesity in the UK. This entails 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 to be consumed for dinner.

It’s found that overweight and obese children may be eating an extra 500 calories every day whilst adults are consuming an extra 200-300 calories per day. It’s arguable some schools won’t issue proper food guidelines to their pupils, but the area of focus should be understanding what the information is telling us from the packaging.

Portion size serving recommendations have also seen an increase over the last twenty years. Pasta for example, typically ranged around 500 calories twenty years ago, to now in present day, one serving equals over 1,000 calories.

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