Leading researchers, doctors reject Health Star Rating on packaged food

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Call for warning labels on unhealthy packaged food

A national study by leading national social scientists revealed that Indian consumers are ready for warning labels on the front of packaged foods high in nutrients of concern.

A randomized control field experiment spanning six states reiterated what public health experts and top doctors have been saying for a while –simple, negative warning labels that clearly identify unhealthy products will work best in reversing the diabetes, hypertension and obesity health crisis. 

In this experiement, approximately 2900 adults in rural and urban areas of Assam, Delhi, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh were asked to view a series of unhealthy products displaying one of five labelsthat are prevalent  – multiple traffic light label – a system preferred by countries like the UK, Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and Health Star Rating (HSR) – labels favoured by the industry, and Warning Labels – considered the global gold standard. Warning Labels emerged as the top scorer on both primary and secondary outcomes.

Calling the study a shot in the arm for consumer and public halth organisations who have questioned FSSAI’s preference for HSR, Ashim Sanyal, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Voice and a member of the Central Advisory Committee, FSSAI said, “It is a well-known fact that HSR misinforms consumers and does not compel industry to make their food products healthier. A Warning Label is an instant recognition by consumers of unhealthy foods. Consumers must become a stakeholder for decision making about choosing healthy foods. ”

Findings of this study titled FOPL labels in India: A Randomised Control Trial, along with supporting evidence from other countrieson the worthiness of warning labels, will be shared with FSSAI to support its decision making process. 


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