Colour-coding, food, health, UAE

Colour-coding will then make it easier for consumers to identify which products would be best for their health.

Food items in the country will soon have colour-coded labels that determine their nutritional value, according to a recent policy adopted by the UAE Cabinet. For the healthcare community, it’s a ‘great step’ towards nudging people into eating healthier.

Once the new policy comes into effect, food products will be categorised in three colours – red, yellow and green – to clearly distinguish their nutritional content.
Information on sugar, salt and fat content, as well as calories, shall also be included in the labels.

However, the system will exclude fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, as well as soft drinks and energy drinks.

Dana Al Shakaa, a clinical dietitian at American Hospital Dubai, said: “It’s a great step towards building healthy eating habits and raising a healthier generation.

“It will create a better understanding of the nutritional value of different foods and guide people towards making better choices for their families and themselves.”

Experts do advise checking nutritional labels thoroughly, especially for people who have to maintain a particular diet because of a medical condition or as part of a weight loss programme.

Colour-coding will then make it easier for consumers to identify which products would be best for their health.

Ruba ElHourani, senior and head dietitian at RAK Hospital, said: “This will also give residents an opportunity to start learning about all micro and macro nutrients – eventually leading to an improvement in the quality and quantity of the food that they consume.”

In general, nutrition facts on labels tell a consumer a number of things: Serving size or portion, number of servings in the package, calories per serving, and the amount of various nutrients contained in the product.

There will be information on energy in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), as well as measurements of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates including sugars, added sugars and salt.

Using colour codes in these labels, one will be able to see at a glance whether a product is high (red), medium (yellow) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars, and how much energy it provides.

Michelle Buari, deputy director for nutrition and lifestyle management at Zulekha Hospital Sharjah, said: “Nutrition labels help individuals make informed choices about the calories, sugar and fat content of the food they purchase. With the new policy, residents will have the ability to easily make comparisons among the same food items, thus enabling them to make healthy food decisions.”

Check the label: what nutrition facts are trying to tell you

1 Serving Size: Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming”

2 Calories (and Calories from Fat): Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from one serving of this food. The number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat. Eating too many calories per day has been linked to overweight and obesity.

3 Nutrients: On the label, you’ll find some key nutrients that may have an impact on your health. You can use the Nutrition Facts label not only to help limit those nutrients you want to cut back on, but also to increase those nutrients you need to consume in greater amounts.

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