The numbers can be difficult to swallow. In the U.S., the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the CDC. Recent data shows that 1 in 5 young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States have obesity. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, from genetics, to metabolism, sleep, physical activity, and outside influences like communities, schools, government agencies, and the media.
While previous studies have shown that constantly revolving screens influence children, a recent study dug deeper with the help of Label Insight’s Open Data Initiative, which gave researchers access to comprehensive, up-to-date data on the U.S. food supply.
The study, published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal in December 2018 from a research team from the University of North Carolina, found that a very high proportion of products in the U.S. would be ineligible for marketing to children if current international guidelines became law. In the study, How Does the Healthfulness of the US Food Supply Compare to International Guidelines for Marketing to Children and Adolescents?, the research team examined the proportion of U.S. food and beverage products that would be eligible for marketing to children under the multi-country WHO Euro Nutrient Profile Model (NPM), and separately under Chilean regulations, which are the first comprehensive laws to identify foods that should not be marketed to children. For example, under Chilean criteria, ‘egg and egg products’ and ‘seafood’ had the highest proportion of products eligible for marketing to children, while ‘confectionery’ and ‘snack foods’ had the lowest proportion eligible for marketing to youth.
Based on the study’s findings, researchers recommend federal, state, and local governments and regulatory agencies consider the WHO and Chilean approaches when developing policy for marketing of foods and beverages to children. These policies may encourage the industry to reformulate their products to be eligible for marketing and ultimately improve the nutritional profile of products that are being greatly consumed in the U.S. diet.
For this study, researchers tapped into Label Insight’s database, which is updated daily and contains information on more than 200,000 food and beverage items -- representing 85% of all products sold in the U.S. food supply over the past 3 years.
Label Insight encourages nutritional and academic researchers and nonprofit organizations to tap into our vast array of product data. By publishing more research about nutritional information, we enable more change and action from industry pundits, government agencies, and consumers.
To make positive change happen, every step, and ingredient, counts.