Food reformulation allowed to reduce 25 tons of salt and 6.256 of sugar

Revealed a report made by the DGS

The collaboration between public and private entities for the reformulation of food products made it possible to reduce more than 25 tons of salt and 6256 tons of sugar in these foods, according to a DGS report released today.

The data are contained in the annual report of the National Program for the Promotion of Healthy Eating (PNPAS), which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and was published today, World Obesity Day.

“Overall, it is estimated that, between 2018 and 2020, the total volume of salt and sugar in foods covered by this protocol fell by around 25,6 tonnes of salt and 6256,1 tonnes of sugar”, he adds. the document, which also mentions that pre-obesity and obesity affect 38,9% and 28,7% of the population, respectively.

For the reformulation of the content of salt, sugar and trans fatty acids in some categories of food products, a collaboration protocol was signed between the Directorate-General for Health, the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge, the Portuguese Association of Distribution Companies , the Federation of Portuguese Agro-Food Industries and NielsenIQ, whose results are now known.

According to data on the monitoring of food products, there was a decrease in the weighted average content of salt and sugar, per 100 grams of food, in almost all food categories, the report said.

“There was an overall reduction of 11,5% in the global weighted average of the salt content per 100 g in the products covered by the commitments for the reformulation of food products (crisps and other salty snacks, breakfast cereals and pizzas) between 2018 and 2021, estimating that this reduction may have contributed to a reduction of 25,6 tons of salt”, says the document.

This decrease was more expressive in the "pizza" category - in 2021 there was a 22,3% decrease in salt content compared to 2018 -, with "breakfast cereals" and "pizzas" having already reached the target reduction of the salt content set for 2022.

Regarding sugar, the report indicates that there was an overall reduction of 11,1% in the global weighted average for the products covered, and it is estimated that this decrease may have contributed to a reduction of 6256,1 tonnes of sugar.

There were more accentuated reductions in the category of “soft drinks”, which, together with chocolate milk and yogurts, have also reached the established values ​​of sugar content for this year.

The document released by the DGS adds, on the other hand, that almost 37% of the population changed their eating habits during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the possibility of having meals at home, but also as a result of emotional factors.

Based on the REACT-COVID 2.0 study to learn about the eating and physical activity behaviors of the Portuguese a year after the start of the pandemic, the report indicates that the “eating behaviors of a relevant percentage of the Portuguese seem to have changed over this period”.

“Compared to the pre-pandemic period, 36,8% of the surveyed population reported having changed their eating habits during the first 12 months of the pandemic. According to the study, 58,2% of respondents have the perception that it has changed for the better and 41,8% for the worse”, the document adds.

About 25% of respondents indicated having increased the amount of food consumed, 18,2% reported having increased the number of daily meals and 23,3% admitted having increased the number of times they eat between meals.

The reasons for this change seem to be related to three major factors: an increase in meals eaten at home and in the number of meals cooked, changes in appetite motivated by emotional reasons and a change in the frequency of shopping trips.

The five foods that the participants most indicated having increased their consumption, compared to the pre-pandemic period, were take-away meals (32,2%), sweet snacks (26,3%), water (22,3, 18,6%), vegetables (15,2%) and fruit (XNUMX%).

For the third quarter of this year, the new strategic guidelines of the PNPAS will be published, which will be developed in the context of the new National Health Plan 2030, currently being prepared, and which fall within one of the goals of the Recovery and Resilience (PRR), within the scope of the Primary Health Care Reform.

Inadequate nutrition is one of the main preventable causes of non-communicable chronic diseases, namely obesity, oncological diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The most recent data from the Global Burden Disease, 2019, show that, in Portugal, inadequate eating habits are among the five risk factors that most determine the loss of years of healthy life and mortality.