A new study from University of Auckland has found that most packaged food in New Zealand is unhealthy – that includes everything from loaves of bread to meat products.
And with poor diets being shown to do more damage than smoking in New Zealand, researchers say it’s time for a change.
When it comes to healthy food in the supermarket, you are safe around the fruit and vegetable section. But once you stray into the aisles, you are in danger.
A study of 23,000 packaged food products in supermarkets in New Zealand and Australia found most were unhealthy.
“Whilst it includes things like confectionary and snack foods, it also includes lots of staple products like breads, dairy products and breakfast cereals as well,” says Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu from the National Institute of Health Innovation.
Researchers looked at packaged food products displaying nutritional information, such as canned fruit and vegetables, ready meals, milk and dairy products.
The study weighed up negative nutrients like sugar, salt and fat, against positive nutrients such as protein and fibre. It then used a calculator to decide whether that food was healthy or not.
Packaged foods make up 90 percent of what is available on supermarket shelves and 55 percent of those packaged foods were found to be unhealthy.
So is enough being done to provide healthy choices?
“No, I think we could be doing a lot better,” says Prof Ni Mhurchu. “If less than half the food in New Zealand is healthy, it shows a real opportunity for us to improve our food supply.”
Supermarkets are aware of growing concerns about the nutritional value of foods. Foodstuffs, which owns Pak ‘n Save and New World, says it’s responded by rolling out the health star rating on its Pam’s and Budget brands. That allows shoppers to compare two similar products and work out which is best for them.
Prof Ni Mhurchu says New Zealand scored lower than Australia in the survey.
“New Zealand did worse when compared with Australia, so about 40 percent of our packaged food can be considered healthy compared to about 47 percent of Australian food,” she says.
So if improving our health isn’t motivation enough, surely we could lift our game just to beat the Australians.
By Kanoa Lloyd – 3 News, read more: www.3news.co.nz/nznews/most-of-packaged-food-unhealthy—study-2015041318#ixzz3a3uwEuHQ