What is it about food label reform that has transformed what many would initially consider a rather mundane topic into a global debate? For starters, the rampant obesity epidemic amongst both adults and children alike in a number of developed countries around the world has led a growing body of advocates to push for additional educational resources designed to ensure that individuals actually understand what they are putting into their body. After all, given the way that many food products lining grocery store shelves today are filled with all sorts of refined sugars and other health ‘no-no’s’, many shoppers simply do not have the knowledge they need to sort through these items are determine what is good for them and what may lead to weight gain and other health issues.
In an effort to stem the tide of poor dietary choices, Russian government officials are now pushing for the inclusion of highly graphic images on junk food labels which depict the various diseases and maladies that may result from excessive consumption of these items. While some praise this as an aggressive step in the right direction towards healthy eating and consumer awareness, the point remains that most individuals who are overweight are not gaining pounds simply through excessive consumption of these singular items. In fact, a number of other parameters can also be blamed for weight gain amongst adults and children, including reduced sleep time, excessive stress, sedentary lifestyles and other detrimental factors.
With this in mind, the question should, perhaps, become, “how we can we strike the perfect balance between food label reform and general diet education?” It seems somewhat too militant to wrap disturbingly graphic images on food items intended for a casual Saturday afternoon or a relaxing evening spent with friends. Instead of scaring customers, imagine the results that could be obtained if that money were spent on education instead? After all, the somewhat dubious results of similar smoking advertisements has proved that customers don’t always respond to threats of pending death or other serious health ramifications.
It will be quite interesting to observe how food labelreform evolves over the next several months. For now, consumers can rest assured that there will be significant changes in the way that nutritional information is presented on their favourite food products in both the short and long-term future.