Chicken or the egg?
Reformulating foods to be healthier without telling consumers is a brilliant health policy, says Professor Graham MacGregor.
Food manufacturers may be slashing levels of salt, fat and sugar in their products as they come under mounting pressure to make their products healthier, but the best way to keep it successful is to keep things low-key, said MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine.
Kellogg’s reduced salt in its cornflakes for example (Kellogg’s cereals now have 50% less salt than they did a decade ago) but no one noticed, he said. “It’s a brilliant health policy. A vast number of people don’t know so it has had no impact.
“Consumers go on buying the same food and yet their salt intake falls,” he said.
And since consumers prefer buying the same food products, calling on them to change their diets might not work either. Improving the foods available to them instead could be the principal route to healthier lifestyles. “Imagine a mother with two young children buying food at a supermarket. She will buy the same foods instead of first choosing a product with less salt and then another with less sugar and so forth,” he said.