Monitoring the levels of important nutrients in the food supply

Authors

  • B. Neal,

    Corresponding author
    • The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • G. Sacks,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • B. Swinburn,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • S. Vandevijvere,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • E. Dunford,

    1. The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • W. Snowdon,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-communicable Diseases (C-POND), Suva, Fiji
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • J. Webster,

    1. The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript are listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • S. Barquera,

    1. National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico
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  • S. Friel,

    1. National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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  • C. Hawkes,

    1. World Cancer Research Fund International, London, United Kingdom
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  • B. Kelly,

    1. School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • S. Kumanyika,

    1. Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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  • M. L'Abbé,

    1. Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • A. Lee,

    1. School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    2. School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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  • T. Lobstein,

    1. International Association for the Study of Obesity, London, United Kingdom
    2. Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • J. Ma,

    1. Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), Beijing, China
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  • J. Macmullan,

    1. Consumers International, London, United Kingdom
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  • S. Mohan,

    1. Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
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  • C. Monteiro,

    1. School of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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  • M. Rayner,

    1. British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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  • D. Sanders,

    1. School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • C. Walker,

    1. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Geneva, Switzerland
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  • INFORMAS

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    • INFORMAS is the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support. All authors who are not members of the writing group are listed in alphabetical order, and contributed to discussion of the key concepts and issues raised in this manuscript as part of the first formal meeting of INFORMAS from 19 to 23 November 2012.

Address for correspondence: B Neal, The George Institute for Global Health, The University of Sydney, PO Box M201, Missenden Rd, NSW 2050, Australia.

E-mail: bneal@georgeinstitute.org.au

Summary

A food supply that delivers energy-dense products with high levels of salt, saturated fats and trans fats, in large portion sizes, is a major cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The highly processed foods produced by large food corporations are primary drivers of increases in consumption of these adverse nutrients. The objective of this paper is to present an approach to monitoring food composition that can both document the extent of the problem and underpin novel actions to address it. The monitoring approach seeks to systematically collect information on high-level contextual factors influencing food composition and assess the energy density, salt, saturated fat, trans fats and portion sizes of highly processed foods for sale in retail outlets (with a focus on supermarkets and quick-service restaurants). Regular surveys of food composition are proposed across geographies and over time using a pragmatic, standardized methodology. Surveys have already been undertaken in several high- and middle-income countries, and the trends have been valuable in informing policy approaches. The purpose of collecting data is not to exhaustively document the composition of all foods in the food supply in each country, but rather to provide information to support governments, industry and communities to develop and enact strategies to curb food-related NCDs.

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