Industry reformulation is the only route to better nutrition, says expert

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food producers should look at the current obesity crisis as an opportunity to do good business and do good for public health through the reformulation of mass-market products, says one nutrition policy expert.

When it comes to obesity, there are many unknowns - not least are the questions of what it is that really makes us fat, and how we can begin to battle obesity and aid weight management. But throughout all of this uncertainty and obscurity on obesity and nutrition, there is only one workable solution to the issues surrounding public nutrition policy - and that is for the food industry itself to continue efforts in product reformulation.

Speaking to FoodNavigator after the publication of his latest review on obesity and nutrition policy, Professor Jack Winkler told us that the focus on ‘traditional policy measures’ such as education, taxation and regulation have failed to deliver meaningful improvements in the battle against bulging waistlines.

The review, published in BMC Medicine​, takes aim at the key issues and long running debates on obesity and nutrition, asking where the science stands on what makes us fat, how we can lose weight, and how this can be translated in to effective policies for public health.

Taking aim at the ‘plethora of answers’ to the question of what causes obesity, Winkler noted that the debate and disagreements seen mean that there is more a series of ‘passionate polemics’ rather than ‘actionable findings’.

“If anything there is even more controversy concerning weight loss than there is about weight gain,”​ said the nutrition policy expert – who added that a core problem in determining both the cause and solution for obesity is that it is ‘impossible’ to accurately measure food intake.

Policy implications

Taking aim at practical policies for better food and nutrition, Winkler said that the use of ‘traditional’ public health measures such as education; regulation and taxation have all failed to make an impact on rising obesity rates – warning that all of these policies remain ineffective or politically problematic to implement.

He suggested that the most helpful and practical solution to battle rising levels of obesity is for industry to work towards reformulating foods to become healthier and meet nutritional targets – suggesting that this could be good for business as well as battling bulges.

“This is an opportunity to do good business and also do good for public health at the same time,”​ said Winkler.

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