Nutrition labelling a robust initiative by UAE - GulfToday

Nutrition labelling a robust initiative by UAE

Nutrition Label

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The approval of the Nutrition Labelling Policy by the UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is a creditable step that will go a long way in promoting healthy eating habits in the society.

The labelling policy represents a significant outcome of the Community Design for Wellbeing Initiative launched by the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing in April 2019.

The authorities have been taking various steps aimed at reducing the consumption of harmful products that put the health of people and environment at risk.

Nutrition labelling is one such major decision that justly aims at engaging the community in designing initiatives to promote wellbeing in the country.

Last month, the UAE Cabinet also decided to expand the list of excise taxable products to include sweetened beverages, sugary drinks and electronic smoking devices, starting Jan.1, 2020, with a view to modify consumers’ behaviour and help reduce consumption of unhealthy goods.

There can be no doubt that the Nutrition Labelling Policy will help raise community awareness and nudge people into adopting a healthy lifestyle, which will eventually promote health and overall wellbeing in the UAE.

The implementation of the policy will be non-compulsory in its initial phase until it becomes compulsory in January 2022.

It is good to note that the new policy aims to label nutritional information on fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content in three colours – red, amber and green – on the front of food packages based on their levels, making it easy for customers to see whether the contents are high or low. Information on calories shall also be included in the labels.

As Ohoud Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing and Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office, pointed out, wellbeing is a holistic concept in which a healthy lifestyle plays a major role, and the Nutrition Labelling Policy reflects the UAE government keenness to promote healthy lifestyles in the community by encouraging healthy eating habits.

As she explains, the policy is a significant outcome of the Community Design for Wellbeing Initiative in which the officials engaged with the people and collected insights on the barriers that prevent them from adopting a healthy lifestyle.

One of those barriers was lack of clear nutritional information on food labels. Hence, the authorities conducted a field survey to identify the best tools for addressing this challenge.

The new policy supports the objectives of the National Wellbeing Strategy focusing on the adoption of healthy and active lifestyles, and contributes to reducing nutrition-related lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and obesity.

The Arab peninsula is known to have one of the highest prevalence rates of diabetes and obesity worldwide according to international reports, and disturbingly, the rates are continuing to rise.

Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, is right in stating that the labelling policy offers a comprehensive framework to provide consumers with nutritional data on the food products that would be best for their health in an easy manner.

It should be noted that the data includes information on sugar, salt and fat contents, as well as calories, eventually leading to an improvement in the quality and quantity of the food that they consume.

The authorities are doing their best to encourage healthy living. Individuals, on their part, would do well to choose healthy options.

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