New research published by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems claims industrial food and farming systems are ‘making people sick’ and ‘fuelling the obesity crisis’ as many of the most severe health conditions have been found to be closely linked to industrial food and farming systems. The authors are calling for ‘a monumental rethink’ of food systems, as although the global trend for unhealthy diets is undoubtedly the most obvious cause, there are many other ways food systems are affecting world health. Environmental contamination, ‘ultra-processed’ foods, food insecurity, chemical-intensive agriculture and unsustainable supply chains also come under fire in the report, Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus. The authors also pointed out the economic burden of such unhealthy food systems is taking its toll: malnutrition and antimicrobial resistant cost the global economy billions, exposure to pesticides costs €184 billion and obesity €70 billion. Although the authors acknowledge changing things will be a ‘monumental task’, the scale of the challenge is irrelevant as something must be done ‘on the grounds of protecting human health’.
It is assumed purchase decisions by consumers seeking healthier snack options would be driven by nutritional and calorie content, but new research from Brazil has shown packaging design and price are far more likely to sway deliberators. Consumers choose products with green or white packaging, as they associate these colours with health, and elaborate flavour descriptions wooed the taste buds. Interestingly, the researchers found pretty packaging even influenced how consumers found the taste—if they liked the packaging, they were more likely to enjoy the taste, and vice versa. Consumers would not purchase products purely based on their health claims, and instead chose offerings with leaves and ‘light’ designs and criticised where nutrition information was placed. They called for the nutrition information to be more clearly displayed and researchers noted ‘high omega-3 content’ and ‘no additives’ claims were the most likely to drive sales. To learn more about how branding and packaging influence decisions, read this blog post to ensure your product appeals to consumers.
Common dieting advice is to skip the dressing on salads to ensure the calorie count is kept low, but new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found added fats and oils are needed to help the body absorb the essential nutrients from the healthy dish. Certain vitamins and carotenoids are fat-soluble—including vitamins A, E, and K, and lutein and beta-carotein—and in most people the oil in salad dressing ‘will benefit nutrient absorption’. The researchers found the more oil added, the more nutrients were absorbed but warned salads should not be ‘drenched in dressing’ and dieters should still watch the calorie content of their favourite dressings.