herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Heart body calls for warning on risky foods

A TRAFFIC light labelling system to help people choose healthy food, has been called for by the Irish Heart Foundation.

Food would be marked with red, amber and green labels to show whether it was high or low in fat, salt or sugar.

The scheme already exists in the UK and Michael O'Shea, chief executive of the Irish Heart Foundation would like to see it introduced here.

"It has been shown by our own research to be the preference of consumers and also proven to be easier for people to understand," he said.

Mr O'Shea says the charity also welcomes the public consultation on the inclusion of calories on menus.

"Providing calorie information on menus is a positive step to help the nation stop and consider what and how much they are eating.

"Obesity is a major health concern for both our adult and child population with Ireland ranking second fattest in Europe, which is why we strongly encourage the public and industry to support Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in their bid to promote calories on menus."

A recent study in the US showed a simple programme involving colour-coded food labelling and adjusting the way food items were displayed, encouraged healthier food choices in a hospital cafeteria.

The study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that using the traffic light colour labelling "led patrons to purchase more of the healthy and fewer of the unhealthy items.

During the second phase of the study healthy items were placed at eye level while the less healthy options were put below eye level.

csheehy@herald.ie

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