Experts argue that it is, rather, necessary to point out which foods are more or less adequate for the search for health
Talking about healthy and proper food has never been so necessary. The news is fresh, and it’s not about fake news: the generation born between the 1980s and 1990s is on its way to becoming the most overweight group in history. We are leaving malnutrition in the past to face a growing and frightening global obesity crisis – and all the fatal consequences of that picture.
It is a consensus in the scientific community – the one that leads the best research, without conflicts of interest – that the increase in the presence of ultraprocessed products in the diet is directly related to weight gain. This is because this type of food generally has high amounts of sodium, sugar and fats, besides presenting preservatives and chemical additives about which little is known about their effects in the long run.
Some argue that there are no good or bad foods, but the truth is that many ultraprocessed products endanger our health and well-being. A can of soda, for example, contains 9.5 teaspoons of sugar , when the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation is for an intake of no more than 6 teaspoons per day.
A frozen chicken fingers is able to offer 306% of the amount of sodium indicated per day for a child of 4 years. A morning cereal has about 40% of its entire composition based on sugar. These – and others – are products that clearly pose a health risk, and it is the consumer’s right to know what they eat.
Each individual is free to choose what they want to eat and to what risks they want to expose their health. The restriction of individual freedoms is inadmissible. However, it is equally unacceptable to conceal necessary and relevant information in technical terms, small print and incalculable percentages for the majority of the population.
It’s like asking people to buy and eat without knowing what’s actually inside each product. Providing correct and understandable information is to give individuals the freedom to make their decisions.
So think the most important entities of health, nutrition and well-being of Brazil. Together, in partnership with the Alliance for Healthy and Adequate Food, they advocate a clearer label for all Brazilians .
That is, a warning that signals on the front of the packaging, in a direct way, the excess presence of nutrients harmful to health. It is not a question of demonizing this or that item, but of ensuring that everyone has access to the same information and is aware of their choices.
Clearer labels, by themselves, do not solve the problem of obesity – a complex and multifactorial issue. They need to be aligned with other strategies, such as those that promote the dissemination of quality information and the education of the population for the management of their own food, in addition to curbing misleading advertising. These are complementary and non-exclusive actions.
Finally, going back to the beginning of this text, talking about healthy and proper eating is more important than ever. And, if in the age of fake news it is always recommended to verify the veracity of the information, it is important to check also the credentials and intentions of those who pronounce. Information is like water: if it is contaminated, it will not do.
In time: The Alliance for Adequate and Healthy Food brings together civil society organizations of public interest, professionals, associations and social movements with the objective of developing and strengthening collective actions that contribute to the health and well-being of all.
Our agenda, our letter of principles and the list of member organizations are disclosed in a transparent and accessible way on our website , as well as the labeling proposal that was presented to the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) . The Alliance is not supported by any food company because it understands that this would be a clear conflict of interest.