how to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods

According to Rosstat, in 2018, 21.7 percent of Russians over the age of 19 were obese. And 40.3 percent were overweight. At the same time, the WHO warns that being overweight is an important factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and certain types of cancer. What to do? Dmitry Davydov, the author of “20 Ideas for Russia’s Development”, participated in the discussion and published 20 proposals for the modernization of the country. He is convinced that his ideas will help our country to become one of the most prosperous in the world and to significantly improve the lives of its citizens.

The author of the work suggests the use of international experience. For example, as of June 2016, food manufacturers in Chile are required to affix warning labels on the front of their packages. If the product is extremely high in calories, then the packaging must have a visible warning label. The labels, which have been developed according to the approved standard, inform the consumer on behalf of the Ministry of Health about the high content of saturated fats, sugar, sodium (salt, soda and others) and calories. That is, the product can have up to four labels at a time. Chile uses a black and white design in the form of a STOP signal.

Products containing at least one label may not be advertised to children under 14 years of age, sold in kindergartens and schools or included in the school meal program.

“Following Chile, many countries have implemented this successful experience. Similar labeling of unhealthy foods is mandatory in Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Israel. – As of December 2019, Canada has also introduced the requirement to display clear, legible information regarding the presence of high levels of sodium, sugar and saturated fat on the front of the package. And in Israel, in order to stimulate food manufacturers, the Ministry of Health introduced a system of red and green labels in 2020. Reds warn of high levels of harmful substances, while greens, on the other hand, confirm the recognition of the product as useful.

There are also marketing restrictions on harmful products that must be labeled. They differ from country to country. Among these restrictions are, for example, the ban on the use of cartoons, cartoons, mascots, characters and other interactive elements aimed at children. And also a ban on competitions, prize draws and the promise of any other reward, a ban on the use of celebrities and their images, as well as athletes.

The author of the project proposes to make mandatory labeling of all food products containing increased amounts of sugar, saturated fat, sodium and calories at the legislative level in Russia. Warning labels must be large and placed in a prominent place on the front of the package.

“I also propose to significantly reduce the advertising of products that are subject to labeling, to ban their sale in kindergartens and educational institutions and to exclude them from the school meal program,” the author of the project wrote on the website 20idei.ru.

According to the author, the implementation of this proposal will lead to positive results. So, for example, customers will know that the product they buy and use poses health risks. Producers, in turn, will be motivated to produce healthier foods. Incidents of food abuse can be significantly reduced.

The main effect of these measures may be to improve the health of the population and reduce mortality in the country.

The author of the project submitted an application to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and received an official response from the department signed by the Deputy Director of the Department of Food Industry and Processing VS Skvortsov. Mr Skvortsov, in particular, points out that the color scheme of food has already been established – “depending on the content of added sugar, salt, saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids in it, taking into account the analysis of the average daily consumption of products in the Russian Federation and the average values ​​of the above critical nutrients.

At the same time, as the official explained, “this color indicator is voluntary and aims to provide the consumer with more detailed and visual information about the content of certain substances in it.”

Nutritionist Elena Solomatina believes that voluntary labeling is completely useless:

– It is difficult for me to imagine a manufacturer who will put a mark on his products that he has too much sugar or salt in them, – says the expert. – Labeling, of course, should be mandatory, under state control. The author of the work is here.

As the expert explained, the problem of malnutrition in Russia is one of the most acute.

“We eat a lot of sweet and savory foods, our diet is much richer in calories than we need, which is why there are so many overweight people in the country, as well as those with cardiovascular disease,” says Elena Solomatina. “One of the problems is that customers are not very good at choosing products. They estimate, at best, only the expiration date. Few people pay attention to calories. In the composition – even more so. The signal system suggested by the author of the work can become a kind of guideline – what can be eaten and what is dangerous. After all, there are mandatory warning labels on cigarette packs. Yes, you can buy and smoke, but they explain to you what it is full of.

At the same time, as the expert explained, the color icon warning system should not only be introduced, but also improved.

– A simple example: there is no sugar in any product. Fine. But there is fructose there – and it is no less harmful than sugar, – says Elena Solomatina. – Or get vegetable fat. The sunflower seed kitchen is a very fatty product. But there is good fat in there. But baking is done with margarine, ie hydrogenated fat, which is very harmful.

According to the expert, an extensive labeling system should be introduced in Russia, which, with the help of simple and understandable symbols, could guide buyers to a sea of ​​products.

– A simple example: on a soda bottle it says in big letters “blueberries”. Everyone knows that this is one of the most useful berries. But when we start to look at the composition of the products, then in the second place, after water, we find sugar. Then a little more food chemistry and blackberries are in fifth place at best! Thus, it is easy to understand that we are offered not a useful, but a very harmful product! The marking proposed by the author of the work makes it possible to avoid this deception “, explained Elena Solomatina.

Viktor Kudryavtsev, a candidate of economics and a lecturer at Moscow State University, believes that manufacturers should be motivated to produce products that are not harmful but beneficial to health.

“Now it is profitable to produce all kinds of fast food, because it is much cheaper than high quality and healthy products,” the expert explained. – The lower the cost, the lower the price, the larger the target audience. And the fact that people eat harmful products does not bother manufacturers – they do business. Okay, let’s continue, but they need to be warned what exactly they offer. And at the same time offer an alternative not with red, but with green, relatively speaking, signals. The idea of ​​mandatory labeling, in my opinion, is quite correct.

Dmitry Davydov believes that government agencies will return to consider his proposals on product labeling. The author of the project hopes that this proposal will receive support, as will his other ideas.

Partner work.

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