So, it can often be really confusing to understand what is actually in the food products we buy, more so if the supermarket is busy, you are in a rush or you just don’t know what you are looking for. The Food Standard Agency (FSA) introduced a front of pack traffic light system in the UK which can be seen on most packaged food products. This type of labelling tool was initially designed to help us make healthier/ more informed choices regarding the food and beverages we consume.
There is significant evidence to show that as a population our daily energy (calories), sugar, salt, and fat intakes (specifically saturated fat) are the main contributing dietary factors in the rising overweight/ obesity rates, which inevitably increases the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases – such as heart disease and/or heart attacks.
Without over complicating it to much the amount of energy (aka calories) we consume per day will determine what our energy balance is (a topic I will discuss in another post in more depth). A positive energy balance is one where an individual consumes more daily energy than they need (this is very individualistic and varies from person to person) and will gradually cause them to gain weight. So having the caloric information readily available on the front of a food packet should hopefully help us all make heathier, more balanced choices.
So what is the Traffic Light System?
To summarise it is a colour coded label which demonstrates the amount of total fat, saturated fats (saturates), sugar, salt, and energy per 100g/ml as well as per serving on the front of a food product.
There are three colours used on the traffic light food labels: RED, AMBER and GREEN.
What do each of these colours code for?
Red – refers to a high amount
Amber – refers to a medium amount
Green – refers to a low amount of that specific nutrient/ energy in a food product.
Therefore, by looking just at the colours you can gauge that the more greens on the label, the healthier the product (i.e. it will be lower in fat, salt, sugar etc). Saying this, please remember that life is about balance and you do not always have to go for the green labels, make sure you are still enjoying your food and have balance!! The traffic light system is just a quick and easy tool to use to help us make more mindful choices when we shop.
The food traffic light label will look something like this on your food products…
For more information the NHS and Food Standard Agency websites provide a great summary of the Traffic Light System.
Whether you have never noticed this colour labelling before or have seen it but weren’t 100% sure what it meant, I hope this quick overview of what the Traffic Light System actually is has helped you!!
Lots of love,
Instagram – @wellnesswithmais