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To evaluate the extent of implementation of public policies aimed at creating healthy eating environments in Senegal compared to international best practice and identity priority actions to address the double burden of malnutrition.
The Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) was used by a local expert panel to assess the level of implementation of forty-three good practice policy and infrastructure support indicators against international best practices using a Likert scale and identify priority actions to address the double burden of malnutrition in Senegal.
Senegal, West Africa.
A national group of independent experts from academia, civil society, non-governmental organisations and United Nations bodies (n =15) and a group of government experts from various ministries (n =16) participated in the study.
Implementation of most indicators aimed at creating healthy eating environments were rated as ‘low’ compared to best practice (31 on 43, or 72 %). The Gwet AC2 inter-rater reliability was good at 0·75 (95 % CI 0·70, 0·80). In a prioritisation workshop, experts identified forty-five actions, prioritising ten as relatively most feasible and important and relatively most effective to reduce the double burden of malnutrition in Senegal (e.g. develop and implement regional school menus based on local products (expand to fourteen regions) and measure the extent of the promotion of unhealthy foods to children).
Significant efforts remain to be made by Senegal to improve food environments. This project allowed to establish an agenda of priority actions for the government to transform food environments in Senegal to tackle the double burden of malnutrition.
Cross-sectional nutritional survey data collected in eight countries were used to estimate saturated fatty acid intakes. Our objective was to estimate the proportion of excessive saturated fatty acid intakes (>10 % of total energy intake) that could be avoided if ultra-processed food consumption was reduced to levels observed in the first quintile of each country. Secondary analysis was performed of 24 h dietary recall or food diary/record data collected by the most recently available nationally representative cross-sectional surveys carried out in Brazil (2008–9), Chile (2010), Colombia (2005), Mexico (2012), Australia (2011–12), the UK (2008–16), Canada (2015) and the US (2015–16). Population attributable fractions estimated the impact of reducing ultra-processed food consumption on excessive saturated fatty acid intakes (above 10 % of total energy intake) in each country. Significant relative reductions in the percentage of excessive saturated fatty acid intakes would be observed in all countries if ultra-processed food consumption was reduced to levels observed in the first quintile's consumption. The reductions in excessive intakes ranged from 10⋅0 % (95 % CI 6⋅2–13⋅6 %) in Canada to 35⋅0 % (95 % CI 28⋅7–48⋅0 %) in Mexico. In all eight studied countries, all presenting more than 30 % of intakes with excessive saturated fatty acids, lowering the dietary contribution of ultra-processed foods to attainable, context-specific levels was shown to be a potentially effective way to reduce the percentage of intakes with excessive saturated fatty acids, which may play an important role in the prevention of non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases.
The present commentary contains a clear and simple guide designed to identify ultra-processed foods. It responds to the growing interest in ultra-processed foods among policy makers, academic researchers, health professionals, journalists and consumers concerned to devise policies, investigate dietary patterns, advise people, prepare media coverage, and when buying food and checking labels in shops or at home. Ultra-processed foods are defined within the NOVA classification system, which groups foods according to the extent and purpose of industrial processing. Processes enabling the manufacture of ultra-processed foods include the fractioning of whole foods into substances, chemical modifications of these substances, assembly of unmodified and modified food substances, frequent use of cosmetic additives and sophisticated packaging. Processes and ingredients used to manufacture ultra-processed foods are designed to create highly profitable (low-cost ingredients, long shelf-life, emphatic branding), convenient (ready-to-consume), hyper-palatable products liable to displace all other NOVA food groups, notably unprocessed or minimally processed foods. A practical way to identify an ultra-processed product is to check to see if its list of ingredients contains at least one item characteristic of the NOVA ultra-processed food group, which is to say, either food substances never or rarely used in kitchens (such as high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or interesterified oils, and hydrolysed proteins), or classes of additives designed to make the final product palatable or more appealing (such as flavours, flavour enhancers, colours, emulsifiers, emulsifying salts, sweeteners, thickeners, and anti-foaming, bulking, carbonating, foaming, gelling and glazing agents).
It is now generally agreed that the impact of the current nature, purpose and extent of food processing on human well-being, health and disease needs to be better understood and explained, in order to improve public health. The special issue of Public Health Nutrition devoted to the concept of ultra-processing of food, and the NOVA classification of which ultra-processed foods are one category, is a great step forward in this work. Coincidentally, a polemical ‘critical appraisal’ of ultra-processing was recently published in another journal. Debate and discussion are an essential part of the scientific endeavour. In this commentary, we correct inaccurate statements made about NOVA in the ‘appraisal,’ rebut points raised, and discuss the larger issue of scientific responsibility for publishing opposing views on controversial topics.
To estimate the impact of reducing saturated fat, trans-fat, salt and added sugar from processed culinary ingredients and ultra-processed foods in the Brazilian diet on preventing cardiovascular deaths by 2030.
A modelling study.
Data were obtained from the Brazilian Household Budget Survey 2008/2009. All food items purchased were categorized into food groups according to the NOVA classification. We estimated the energy and nutrient profile of foods then used the IMPACT Food Policy model to estimate the reduction in deaths from CVD up to 2030 in three scenarios. In Scenario A, we assumed that the intakes of saturated fat, trans-fat, salt and added sugar from ultra-processed foods and processed culinary ingredients were reduced by a quarter. In Scenario B, we assumed a reduction of 50 % of the same nutrients in ultra-processed foods and processed culinary ingredients. In Scenario C, we reduced the same nutrients in ultra-processed foods by 75 % and in processed culinary ingredients by 50 %.
Approximately 390 400 CVD deaths might be expected in 2030 if current mortality patterns persist. Under Scenarios A, B and C, CVD mortality can be reduced by 5·5, 11·0 and 29·0 %, respectively. The main impact is on stroke with a reduction of approximately 6·0, 12·6 and 32·0 %, respectively.
Substantial potential exists for reducing the CVD burden through overall improvements of the Brazilian diet. This might require reducing the penetration of ultra-processed foods by means of regulatory policies, as well as improving the access to and promotion of fresh and minimally processed foods.
The present paper aimed to identify the stakeholders, as well as their arguments and recommendations, in the debate on the application of a food processing-based classification system to the new Brazilian Food Guide.
Qualitative approach; an analysis was made of documents resulting from the consultation conducted for the development of the new Brazilian Food Guide, which uses the NOVA classification for its dietary recommendations. A thematic matrix was constructed and the resulting themes represented the main points for discussion raised during the consultation.
Actors from academia, government and associations/unions/professional bodies/organizations related to the area of nutrition and food security; non-profit institutions linked to consumer interests and civil society organizations; organizations, associations and food unions linked to the food industry; and individuals.
Four themes were identified: (i) conflicting paradigms; (ii) different perceptions about the role and need of individuals; (iii) we want more from the new food guide; and (iv) a sustainable guide.
There was extensive participation from different sectors of society. The debate generated by the consultation revealed two main conflicting opinions: a view aligned with the interests of the food industry and a view of healthy eating which serves the interests of the population. The first group was against the adoption of a food processing-based classification system in a public policy such as the new Brazilian Food Guide. The second group, although mostly agreeing with the new food guide, argued that it failed to address some important issues related to the food and nutrition agenda in Brazil.
To quantify associations of the dietary share of ultra-processed foods (UPF) with the overall diet quality of First Nations peoples.
A cross-sectional analysis of data from the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study, designed to contribute to knowledge gaps regarding the diet of First Nations peoples living on-reserve, south of the 60th parallel. A multistage sampling of communities was conducted. All foods from 24 h dietary recalls were categorized into NOVA categories and analyses were performed to evaluate the impact of UPF on diet quality.
Western and Central Canada.
First Nations participants aged 19 years or older.
The sample consisted of 3700 participants. UPF contributed 53·9 % of energy. Compared with the non-UPF fraction of the diet, the UPF fraction had 3·5 times less vitamin A, 2·4 times less K, 2·2 times less protein, 2·3 times more free sugars and 1·8 times more Na. As the contribution of UPF to energy increased so did the overall intakes of energy, carbohydrate, free sugar, saturated fat, Na, Ca and vitamin C, and Na:K; while protein, fibre, K, Fe and vitamin A decreased. Diets of individuals who ate traditional First Nations food (e.g. wild plants and game animals) on the day of the recall were lower in UPF.
UPF were prevalent in First Nations diets. Efforts to curb UPF consumption and increase intake of traditional First Nations foods and other fresh or minimally processed foods would improve diet quality and health in First Nations peoples.
To assess household availability of NOVA food groups in nineteen European countries and to analyse the association between availability of ultra-processed foods and prevalence of obesity.
Ecological, cross-sectional study.
Estimates of ultra-processed foods calculated from national household budget surveys conducted between 1991 and 2008. Estimates of obesity prevalence obtained from national surveys undertaken near the budget survey time.
Across the nineteen countries, median average household availability amounted to 33·9 % of total purchased dietary energy for unprocessed or minimally processed foods, 20·3 % for processed culinary ingredients, 19·6 % for processed foods and 26·4 % for ultra-processed foods. The average household availability of ultra-processed foods ranged from 10·2 % in Portugal and 13·4 % in Italy to 46·2 % in Germany and 50·4 % in the UK. A significant positive association was found between national household availability of ultra-processed foods and national prevalence of obesity among adults. After adjustment for national income, prevalence of physical inactivity, prevalence of smoking, measured or self-reported prevalence of obesity, and time lag between estimates on household food availability and obesity, each percentage point increase in the household availability of ultra-processed foods resulted in an increase of 0·25 percentage points in obesity prevalence.
The study contributes to a growing literature showing that the consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases. Its findings reinforce the need for public policies and actions that promote consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and make ultra-processed foods less available and affordable.
To assess associations between three diet quality indices and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in the Cree (Eeyouch) of northern Québec, Canada, as well as to evaluate their pertinence in this Indigenous context.
The alternative-Healthy Eating Index 2010 (aHEI-2010), the Food Quality Score (FQS) and the contribution of ultra-processed products (UPP) to total daily dietary energy intake using the NOVA classification were calculated from 24 h food recalls. MetS was determined with the latest harmonized definition. Logistic regressions assessed the relationship between quintiles of dietary quality scores with MetS and its components.
Study sample from the 2005–2009 cross-sectional Nituuchischaayihititaau Aschii Environment-and-Health Study.
Eeyouch (n 811) from seven James Bay communities (≥18 years old).
MetS prevalence was 56·6 % with 95·4 % abdominal adiposity, 50·1 % elevated fasting plasma glucose, 43·4 % hypertension, 38·6 % elevated TAG and 44·5 % reduced HDL cholesterol. Comparing highest and lowest quintiles of scores, adjusted OR (95 % CI) of MetS was 0·70 (0·39, 1·08; P-trend=0·05) for aHEI-2010, 1·06 (0·63, 1·76; P-trend=0·87) for FQS and 1·90 (1·14, 3·17; P-trend=0·04) for the contribution of UPP to total daily dietary energy intake.
Although diet quality indices have been associated with cardiometabolic risk, only the dietary intake of UPP was significantly associated with MetS in the Eeyouch. Indices tailored to the food environment of northern communities are essential to further understand the impact of diet quality in this context.
Given evident multiple threats to food systems and supplies, food security, human health and welfare, the living and physical world and the biosphere, the years 2016–2025 are now designated by the UN as the Decade of Nutrition, in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For these initiatives to succeed, it is necessary to know which foods contribute to health and well-being, and which are unhealthy. The present commentary outlines the NOVA system of food classification based on the nature, extent and purpose of food processing. Evidence that NOVA effectively addresses the quality of diets and their impact on all forms of malnutrition, and also the sustainability of food systems, has now accumulated in a number of countries, as shown here. A singular feature of NOVA is its identification of ultra-processed food and drink products. These are not modified foods, but formulations mostly of cheap industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients plus additives, using a series of processes (hence ‘ultra-processed’). All together, they are energy-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined starches, free sugars and salt, and poor sources of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. Ultra-processed products are made to be hyper-palatable and attractive, with long shelf-life, and able to be consumed anywhere, any time. Their formulation, presentation and marketing often promote overconsumption. Studies based on NOVA show that ultra-processed products now dominate the food supplies of various high-income countries and are increasingly pervasive in lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries. The evidence so far shows that displacement of minimally processed foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals by ultra-processed products is associated with unhealthy dietary nutrient profiles and several diet-related non-communicable diseases. Ultra-processed products are also troublesome from social, cultural, economic, political and environmental points of view. We conclude that the ever-increasing production and consumption of these products is a world crisis, to be confronted, checked and reversed as part of the work of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and its Decade of Nutrition.
To present and discuss the dietary guidelines issued by the Brazilian government in 2014.
The present paper describes the aims of the guidelines, their shaping principles and the approach used in the development of recommendations. The main recommendations are outlined, their significance for the cultural, socio-economic and environmental aspects of sustainability is discussed, and their application to other countries is considered.
Brazil in the twenty-first century.
All people in Brazil, now and in future.
The food- and meal-based Brazilian Dietary Guidelines address dietary patterns as a whole and so are different from nutrient-based guidelines, even those with some recommendations on specific foods or food groups. The guidelines are based on explicit principles. They take mental and emotional well-being into account, as well as physical health and disease prevention. They identify diet as having cultural, socio-economic and environmental as well as biological and behavioural dimensions. They emphasize the benefits of dietary patterns based on a variety of natural or minimally processed foods, mostly plants, and freshly prepared meals eaten in company, for health, well-being and all relevant aspects of sustainability, as well as the multiple negative effects of ready-to-consume ultra-processed food and drink products.
The guidelines’ recommendations are designed to be sustainable personally, culturally, socially, economically and environmentally, and thus fit to face this century. They are for foods, meals and dietary patterns of types that are already established in Brazil, which can be adapted to suit the climate, terrain and customs of all countries.
The present study describes the consumption patterns of sweetened food and drink products in a Catholic Middle Eastern Canadian community and examines its associations with physical activity, sedentary behaviours and BMI.
A two-stage cross-sectional design was used. In Stage 1 (n 42), 24 h recalls enabled the identification of sweetened products. In Stage 2 (n 192), an FFQ was administered to measure the daily consumption of these products and to collect sociodemographic and behavioural data. Sweetened products were defined as processed culinary ingredients and ultra-processed products for which total sugar content exceeded 20 % of total energy.
Three Catholic Middle Eastern churches located in Montreal, Canada.
Normoglycaemic men and women (18–60 years old).
Twenty-six sweetened products represented an average consumption of 75·4 g total sugars/d or 15·1 % of daily energy intake (n 190, 56 % women). Soft drinks, juices, sweetened coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes and muffins were the main sources of consumption and mostly consumed between meals. Age (exp (β) = 0·99; P < 0·01), physical activity (exp (β) = 1·08; P < 0·01) and recreational computer use (exp (β) = 1·17; P < 0·01) were independently associated with sweetened product consumption. The association between sweetened product consumption and physical activity was U-shaped. BMI was not significantly associated with sweetened product consumption but all participants regardless of BMI were above the WHO recommendation for free sugars.
Being physically active and spending less time using a computer may favour a reduced consumption of sweetened products. Very active individuals may, however, overconsume such products.
To investigate consumption of ultra-processed products in Canada and to assess their association with dietary quality.
Application of a classification of foodstuffs based on the nature, extent and purpose of food processing to data from a national household food budget survey. Foods are classified as unprocessed/minimally processed foods (Group 1), processed culinary ingredients (Group 2) or ultra-processed products (Group 3).
All provinces and territories of Canada, 2001.
Households (n 5643).
Food purchases provided a mean per capita energy availability of 8908 (se 81) kJ/d (2129 (se 19) kcal/d). Over 61·7 % of dietary energy came from ultra-processed products (Group 3), 25·6 % from Group 1 and 12·7 % from Group 2. The overall diet exceeded WHO upper limits for fat, saturated fat, free sugars and Na density, with less fibre than recommended. It also exceeded the average energy density target of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Group 3 products taken together are more fatty, sugary, salty and energy-dense than a combination of Group 1 and Group 2 items. Only the 20 % lowest consumers of ultra-processed products (who consumed 33·2 % of energy from these products) were anywhere near reaching all nutrient goals for the prevention of obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases.
The 2001 Canadian diet was dominated by ultra-processed products. As a group, these products are unhealthy. The present analysis indicates that any substantial improvement of the diet would involve much lower consumption of ultra-processed products and much higher consumption of meals and dishes prepared from minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients.
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