Following a survey of 250 Irish parents conducted by my office, I have called for the introduction of a mandatory traffic light labelling system to help inform parents of the sugar content in foods.
Traffic light labelling is badly needed to help warn parents about the sugar content in their children’s diets.
A recent survey conducted by my team and I, questioned 250 people outside supermarkets in Dublin. We found that 61% of people questioned incorrectly believed that certain yoghurt products were a healthy low sugar choice, when in fact they contain over 12g of sugar per serving. One product in particular, which is specifically marketed at young children, actually contains over half the recommended daily amount of sugar for 4-10 year olds.
My survey also found that 97% of parents questioned want a traffic light labelling system to help them make healthy choices for their children.
I have long highlighted the dangers of the growing childhood obesity problem in Ireland. The World Health Organisation has predicted Ireland is on course to be the fattest country in Europe by 2030 and currently 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese. This is an alarming trend and we must all come together and take real and practical steps to tackle this huge problem.
My survey of shoppers highlights the gap between people’s awareness levels and the reality of what is in our food, particularly the food we give our children. Labels can be very misleading and it’s easy to see how parents may think something is healthy, when in fact it’s full of sugar.
Traffic light labels would make it much easier for consumers to tell at a glance which foods are healthiest. The labels indicate with red, amber and green labels which foods are high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. That means consumers are able to tell easily that a food marked with a red symbol should be consumed only in moderation or as a treat on a special occasion, eaten in moderation if it’s amber, or freely consumed if it has a green symbol. Health campaigners in Ireland have been campaigning for traffic light labelling for years in a bid to help consumers make healthier choices and I’m now calling for it to be introduced without delay.