Baby food, 68% is junk food. European research

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Sixty-eight percent of the most popular foods aimed at children in Europe have an unbalanced nutritional profile. Too much fat, sugar and salt, as well as too little fiber. Junk food. The study by the European Commission Research Center.(1)

Junk food for children in Europe. European research

The scientific study conducted by theJoint Research Centre (JRC) evaluated the nutritional profile of 2691 packaged foods aimed at a youth audience. The sample was drawn from the Euromonitor database, considering the best-selling products in 20 member countries.

Foods were compared with two established nutritional standards to assess their suitability of foods for promotion to children. The first, more lenient system was defined by an organization representing Big Food and advertisers in Europe. (2) In contrast, the second, more rigorous, is that of the World Health Organization (WHO).

68% of the products are found to have unbalanced nutritional profiles. They are therefore unsuitable for contributing to a balanced diet in the population group under consideration. The researchers, in particular, looked at five categories of products:

breakfast cereal. Too much sugar and too little dietary fiber, despite appearances,

yogurt. Too much sugar and excess fat, both total and saturated,

ready meals, meat and fish or shellfish preparations. Too much salt and excessive calories.

Nutritional profiles, the Big Food-WHOscissors.

Nutritional profiles developed by Big Food and European advertisers result in 48 percent of products being rejected, on average. With a maximum peak for processed meats (65 percent) and a minimum for yogurts (29 percent). With the implementation of the new standard, launched in 2018 and implemented from the end of 2019, the threshold of rejected foods rises to 55 percent.

In contrast, the WHO(World Health Organization) benchmark standard for assessing the suitability of foods to be advertised to minors results in the rejection of 68 percent of the products tested. With a high of 80 percent for cereals and a low of 31 percent on processed fish.

HFSS foods, a ticking time bomb.

To curb the obesity epidemic and protect young Europeans from junk food marketing, the EU Audiovisual Media Directive merely ‘encourages’ member states. To promote industry self-regulation by limiting children’s exposure to HFSS(High in Fats, Sugar and Sodium) food and beverage advertising. Although the dramatic data on the epidemic spread of childhood obesity and related diseases demonstrate the total ineffectiveness of self-regulation.

Like a time bomb, today’s bad industrial food recipes will produce new sick people tomorrow. In fact, junk food, particularly ultra-processed foods, is the primary cause of chronic noncommunicable diseases. The so-called NCDs(Non-Communicable Diseases) such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, immune system tilt.

Notes

(1) Stefan Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann, Marguerite Robinson, Jan Wollgast, Sandra Caldeira. The ineligibility of food products from across the EU for marketing to children according to two EU-level nutrient profile models, Plos One https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213512

(2) EU Pledge. EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria White Paper. 2015. V. https://eu-pledge.eu/

(3) World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. WHO Regional Office for Europe nutrient profile model [Internet]. 2015. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/270716/Nutrient-children_web-new.pdf?ua=1

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".