Saving lifes through food reformulation

Saving lifes through food reformulation

A new paper co-authored by SUSFANS project member Louis George-Solar (INRA) will be published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The article deals with the "assessment of the potential health impacts of food reformulation".

Policies focused on food quality are intended to facilitate healthy choices by consumers, even those who are not fully informed about the links between food consumption and health. Decreasing the salt and fat content in foods and increasing the whole grain content are good examples of food composition changes being made to address health-related issues. In this respect, some governments are partnering with the food industry and the retail sector to generate changes on the supply side.

But to what extent may such policies focused on the nutritional quality of foods contribute to health benefits?

The researchers first created reformulation scenarios adapted to the French characteristics of foods. After computing the changes in the nutrient intakes of representative consumers, the authors determined the health effects of these changes. To do so, they used the DIETRON health assessment model, which calculates the number of deaths avoided by changes in food and nutrient intakes.

The results: Depending on the reformulation scenario, the total impact of reformulation varies between 2408 and 3597 avoided deaths per year, which amounts to a 3.7–5.5% reduction in mortality linked to diseases considered in the DIETRON model. The impacts are much higher for men than for women and much higher for low-income categories than for high-income categories. These differences result from the differences in consumption patterns and initial disease prevalence among the various income categories.

 CONCLUSIONS: Even without any changes in consumers’ behaviors, realistic food reformulation may have significant health outcomes.

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