Red E is intimidating – News: Medicine and Psychology

Soft drinks make you fat. This has been demonstrated by many international studies in recent years. They have a lot of sugar, but do not quench their appetite. The higher the risk of diabetes, tooth decay and cardiovascular disease, the more sugary drinks you drink. That's why the World Health Organization is involved WHO to switch to healthy varieties without calories. The big question, though, is how to motivate consumers.

Since good intentions generally do not last long, there are several other approaches. Epidemiologists from the reputed Cochrane Research Network reviewed 58 studies of more than one million subjects to determine which of these measures were most successful. Soft drinks are all sugary drinks, such as cola, rivella, soda, energy drinks or iced tea. The good news: there are promising approaches. The bad news: Switzerland only partially trusts those who promise the most success.

food traffic lights

First and foremost, portfolio measures, the availability of beverages and customer education have positive effects. One of the most effective measures of the Cochrane Review has turned out to be various forms of food traffic lights, namely a colorful, intuitive and understandable labeling on the packaging. Several studies have shown that people buy fewer soft drinks when they talk to them about their high sugar content in signal color. The most striking example is the Nutri score developed in France, which analyzes the nutritional content food with colored letters, from green A to red E, appreciated. The label is used in several European countries such as France or Spain.

The Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs (BLV) ensures that manufacturers also print the Nutri score on their products in Switzerland. However, the BLV has so far, with moderate success, voluntarily. As the "SonntagsZeitung" reported last weekend, wholesalers refuse Migros and chicken coop. participate in the implementation of the Nutri score. And the umbrella organization of the Swiss agri-food industries also wants to wait and see.

In Switzerland, officials are usually volunteers. For example, under the label "Swiss Pledge", beverage companies such as Coca-Cola or Rivella have committed not to target their ads on the target group under 12 years. As part of the "Milan Declaration", the BLV works with food producers such as Nestlé, Migros and Coop to voluntarily reduce the sugar content of yogurts and mueslis.

"I think Switzerland is not doing enough for soft drinks."
David Fäh, Epidemiologist, University of Zurich

The problem: voluntary measures score poorly in the Cochrane Review. "In fact, we have found no reliable evidence that voluntary industry commitments result in a decrease in sugary drinks or sugar content of beverages," says Peter von Philipsborn, author of Cochrane Review and epidemiologist at the Munich LMU. Studies that found an effect did not meet the scientific requirements.

Nevertheless, the federal government wants to stick to its strategy for the moment. "In Switzerland, cooperation with the food industry is working well on a voluntary basis," said Nathalie Rochat of BLV. "Currently, the question of legal regulation does not arise."

The Cochrane team also indicated that price increases for non-alcoholic beverages in restaurants, stores and recreational facilities were effective. The children's menus at the restaurant should not contain, by default, a sweet drink, but something healthier. The study also seduces supermarkets. The best placement and marketing of healthier beverages in stores is successful.

Sugar taxes help

There are still discussions about the introduction of a sugar tax, which already exists in various countries. "There is reliable evidence that price increases, for example through tax measures, work," explains the author of the Philipsborn study. In the United Kingdom, the announcement of a tax on sweetened beverages meant that manufacturers such as Coca-Cola would have reduced the sugar content of their soft drinks by up to 50% in a short time.

Another Cochrane team is currently working on a separate analysis of the effectiveness of the sugar tax. It should be ready by the end of the year. "It seems that voluntary industry initiatives bring particular results if the government is simultaneously working on binding measures," Philipsborn said. An English study published last year in The Lancet also showed that low-income people, contrary to expectations, benefited from such a tax.

"The review seems well done, the conclusions are plausible," says David Fäh, epidemiologist and nutrition expert at the University of Zurich. "I think Switzerland is not doing enough with soft drinks," said Fäh. We must act not only with sugar, but generally with the sweetness of drinks. "The ideal would be for the legislator to oblige manufacturers to permanently reduce the sugar content and, above all, the sweetness of the drinks." In Britain, manufacturers have replaced sugar with sweeteners, but even sweeteners are challenged to find out whether they are sweet or not. large quantity are in good health. Therefore, Fäh also has reservations about whether the Nutri score would be a good solution. The artificially sweetened drinks would then have a green, he found problematic.

At one point, Switzerland behaves much better than Germany. Schools are also on the list of Cochrane Review applications. Soft drinks should not be offered. Nevertheless, this is still the case in Germany in 41% of schools. In Switzerland, these figures do not exist because the schools are organized at cantonal or community level.

Nevertheless, cantonal officials in Zurich and Bern state on request that the knowledge that children drink the best water is generally high in primary schools. It is only in cantons and vocational schools that drink vending machines are offered.

(Editors Tamedia)

Created: 12.06.2019, 21:01