In a surprise result, British food has been found the healthiest on average in a survey of 12 countries, at least in terms of packaged food and drink.
Conducted by the George Institute of Global Health, the survey analysed over 400,000 products from the included countries according to Australia’s health star rating, which factors in energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat, protein, calcium and fibre. Countries were rated according to the average of all ratings for products from their country.
By this measure, the three healthiest countries were the UK at 2.83, the US at 2.82 and Australia at 2.81. The three least healthy were Chile at 2.44, China at 2.43 and India trailing at 2.27.
The study authors expressed concern that the countries with the unhealthiest food were among the worst prepared to shoulder the disease burden of obesity and other adverse health consequences, and called on major manufacturers to honor their pledges to the International Food and Beverage Alliance to improve the healthiness of their products.
Of course, an overall country rating only tells part of the story. Unpacking the data reveals many other worrying health trends, such as Canada and the US in first and second place respectively for high levels of salt, or South Africa’s abysmal 1.92 Health Star rating for drinks.
With processed foods taking up an ever-greater proportion of the world’s intake, it’s a health risk no country can afford to ignore.
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Dunford EK, Ni Mhurchu C, Huang L, Vandevijvere S, Swinburn B, Pravst I, et al. A comparison of the healthiness of packaged foods and beverages from 12 countries using the Health Star Rating nutrient profiling system, 2013-2018. Obes Rev. 2019 Jul 22. DOI: 10.1111/obr.12879. [Epub ahead of print]