Now More than Ever: Better Labels, Better Choices, Better Health

The “Now More than Ever: Better Labels, Better Choices, Better Health” campaign, launched by The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), UNICEF and the OECS Commission, seeks to raise awareness about the impact of childhood overweight and obesity and the regional NCD epidemic, while promoting children’s right to nutritious foods and mobilising public and policymaker support for the adoption of the octagon shaped warning labels on the front of packaged foods as the best way to help Caribbean citizens identify products that are high in sugars, fats and salt.

Unhealthy diets, dominated by widely available and affordable processed foods, high in sugars, fats and salt, have been fuelling silent obesity and NCD epidemics in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerability of persons living with NCDs, who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and placed tremendous strain on national and regional food systems. The campaign urges Caribbean policymakers to use COVID-19 as a springboard to prioritise action on NCDs and childhood obesity, emphasizing that children need nutritious foods in order to grow, learn and thrive.

What Is Front-of-Package Warning Labelling (FOPWL)?

Front of package warning labels (FOPWL) are labels or seals applied to the front of packaged products which allow consumers to correctly, quickly and easily identify when a product contains excessive amounts of critical nutrients.

Critical nutrients of public health concern are: sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. These nutrients when consumed in excess are linked to obesity and NCDs, in particular high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and overweight/obesity.

The actual front-of-package text-based seals are placed in the main panel visible to the consumer to indicate if the product is “HIGH IN SUGAR”, “HIGH IN SODIUM”, “HIGH IN SATURATED FATS”, “HIGH IN TOTAL FATS”, and/or “HIGH IN TRANS FATS”.

Nutrient profile models are used to establish the thresholds that define when these critical nutrients are in excess.

Why Do We Need Front-of-Package Warning Labelling (FOPWL)?

  • High blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and overweight/obesity are the top three risk factors for mortality in the Americas.

  • Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of mortality, morbidity and disability in the Caribbean. In all of the Americas, the Caribbean has the highest rates of NCD mortality.

  • Rates of overweight and obesity in the region are among the highest in the world and most worrying among children where 1 in 3 children and teens is overweight or obese.

Show Your Support For Front of Package Warning Labels (FOPWL), YOU Have the Right to Know what is in your food and you have a right to be involved in a process that affects your health. Click here: https://www.healthycaribbean.org/caribbean-consumers-have-the-right-to-know/

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