UAE approves nutrition labelling plan to help curb obesity rates

UAE Cabinet has approved a Nutrition Labelling policy which aims to nudge people into adopting a healthy lifestyle
UAE approves nutrition labelling plan to help curb obesity rates
The implementation of the policy will be voluntary in its initial phase until it becomes compulsory in January 2022.
By Sam Bridge
Wed 11 Sep 2019 04:07 PM

The UAE Cabinet has approved a Nutrition Labelling policy which aims to raise community awareness and nudge people into adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The approval represents a significant outcome of the Community Design for Wellbeing Initiative launched by the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing in April.

The implementation of the policy will be voluntary in its initial phase until it becomes compulsory in January 2022, state news agency WAM reported.

The new policy aims to label nutritional information on fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content in three colours – red, amber and green – on the front of food packages based on their levels, making it easy for customers to see whether the contents are high or low.

Information on calories will also be included in the labels.

Recent studies have shown that 68 percent of people in the UAE are overweight, 28 percent are obese, 44 percent have high cholesterol levels, 29 percent have high blood pressure, 20 percent eat high-sodium foods, and that these diseases are responsible for 30 percent of all deaths in the UAE.

The policy was developed by the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing in cooperation with the Food Security Office, and will be implemented by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), WAM said.

It will include canned solid and liquid foods, but will exclude fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing and director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, noted that wellbeing is a holistic concept in which a healthy lifestyle plays a major role.

Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, said that the policy offers a comprehensive framework to provide consumers with nutritional data on the food products that would be best for their health in an easy manner.

The initiative supports the National Food Security Strategy, which aims to sustain food safety, improve nutritional intake and reduce the consumption of unhealthy food elements by 30 percent.

"Achieving these objectives will reduce diet-related diseases and health issues which cost more than AED55 million yearly," she said, adding: "This policy will allow consumers to make better nutritional choices, and boost their confidence in the food industry, which will eventually enhance the national food security in the UAE."

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