Graphic labels on treat foods a silly idea, says FGC

5 June 2018

Putting graphic labels on so-called unhealthy or treat foods is a silly idea that’s based on no evidence, says FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

She is commenting on a University of Melbourne study that theorises a brief exposure to graphic food product health warnings, similar to those on cigarette packs, on food such as chips, chocolate bars, and biscuits, may enhance “dietary self-control.”

The researchers claim the brain activity of people looking at such products was more likely to indicate that they would exercise self-control and make the healthier food choices.

Katherine Rich says: "It's a silly idea for food labelling and is based on no evidence whatsoever. The image of a fatty distended heart on a chocolate label would also be misleading and false.

"Enjoying chocolate or other treats in moderation does not cause heart disease or any other grizzly images that public health campaigners might want on a food label.

“The idea is also doubted by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, which makes the point that food is a lot different to cigarettes, and that there’s a way to enjoy treat food without it being harmful, as long as they really are an occasional treat.

“This is in line with the food industry’s mantra that to maintain a healthy lifestyle, all foods and beverages should be consumed in moderation and with a balance of activity.

“The researchers admit their research was conducted in a laboratory setting, so it’s hardly a surprise it bears little or no resemblance to the reality of how most people eat.”

Read the study

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