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New survey ranks counties based on health of packaged foods

A new global survey has found that the UK has the healthiest packaged foods whilst India had the unhealthiest.

A global survey from the George Institute for Global Health has found that the UK has the healthiest packaged foods and drinks, with the US coming in second place and Australia coming in at third.

The new survey analysed over 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries around the world.

After analysing over 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries and territories around the world, the survey highlighted the high levels of sugar, saturated fat, salt and calories/kJ in many food items and ranked the countries with Australia’s Health Star Rating system. This measures the levels of the nutrients such as energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat as well as protein, calcium and fibre and assigns a star rating from 0.5 (least healthy) to 5 (the most healthy).

It found that the UK had the highest average Health Star Rating of 2.83, followed by the US at 2.82 and Australia at 2.81. India got the lowest rating of just 2.27 followed by China at 2.43 with Chile coming third from bottom at 2.44. 

Further key results from the survey include:

  • China’s drinks were some of the healthiest in the survey with a rating of 2.9 but packaged foods scored low at 2.39
  • South Africa scored low with its drinks at an average 1.92 rating whilst its foods came in at 2.87
  • Canada topped the list for unhealthy salt levels in foods and drinks with an average of 291mg/100g of sodium
  • The UK scored best for sugar at just 3.8 grams per 100g
  • China’s packaged foods and beverages had the most harmful levels of saturated fat. They also scored worst for average sugar levels at 8.5 grams per 100g.

“Globally we’re all eating more and more processed foods and that’s a concern because our supermarkets’ shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick,” said lead author Dr Elizabeth Dunford. “Our results show that some countries are doing a much better job than others.

“Unfortunately it’s the poorer nations that are least able to address the adverse health consequences that have the unhealthiest foods.”

The results were published in Obesity Reviews.

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