Title: The ineligibility of food products from across the EU for marketing to children according to two EU-level nutrient profile models
Citation: PLOS ONE vol. 14 no. 10 p. 1-17
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC110668
ISSN: 1932-6203 (online)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC110668
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213512
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Background A variety of nutrient profiling models have been developed to restrict food marketing to children. Previous assessments have shown substantial differences in terms of model strictness and agreement, but EU-wide data on how leading products in the various national markets perform against these health-minded nutrition criteria are unavailable. Objective To evaluate the nutritional composition of the pre-packaged food offer in selected categories sold at scale in the EU using criteria of two nutrient profile models intended to restrict food marketing to children. Methods The nutrient profile models of the private-sector EU Pledge and of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe were applied to a commercial database with sales and nutritional information of 2691 pre-packaged products from five product categories (breakfast cereals, ready meals, processed meat, processed seafood, and yoghurts) and 20 EU countries. This study describes the criteria not met, the product ineligibility rates, and the distances to the various criteria thresholds. Findings Between 48% (EU Pledge) and 68% (WHO Europe) of the 2691 products analysed were found to be ineligible for marketing to children. The criteria thresholds most often not met were those for total sugars (in breakfast cereals, yoghurts), salt (in processed meat, processed seafood, ready meals), and fibre (in breakfast cereals). Total and saturated fat criteria also played a substantial role in rendering yoghurt products ineligible, and the energy criterion did so for ready meals. Interpretation A large number of food products selling at scale in the EU do not meet the criteria of two EU-level nutrient profile models intended to restrict food marketing to children. Given the considerable market share of many such products, they are likely to be consumed widely and in some cases regularly, including by children, even without being marketed to them. Nutrient profile models could serve as benchmarking tools for monitoring and evaluating food product reformulation efforts.
JRC Directorate:Health, Consumers and Reference Materials

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