Awareness on Dietary Fats among Consumers and the Levels of Total Fat in Selected Foods; in Relation to Proposed Nutrition Labelling in Sri Lanka
Keywords:Dietary fats, Noncommunicable diseases, Traffic light labelling, Processed foods
Excessive consumption of dietary fats is one of the principal causes of the prevailing problem of noncommunicable diseases in Sri Lanka. With the intention of combats against the rising levels of noncommunicable diseases, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka have proposed regulations, for mandatory food labelling and traffic light labeling on processed foods. The effectiveness on nutrition profile labelling is greatly determining by the awareness and attitudes on dietary fats among consumers, and the levels of total fats present in foods available in Sri Lanka. Therefore, a cross sectional study was conducted with 413 shoppers, lives in Colombo district, Sri Lanka. Self - administrated questionnaire was used to assess the consumersâ€™ postures on dietary fats. Total fats of seventy four most popular food products were also determined, under seven categories as; fast foods, bakery products, spreadable fats, biscuits, snacks, Sri Lankan sweetmeats and chocolates. According to the findings, respondents have a good basic knowledge of dietary fat-disease relationship. Nevertheless their awareness on different types and terms related with dietary fats were low. Even though the majority were food label users, the use of information on food labels such as; ingredient list, nutrition information and serving size were substantially poor. Therefore to gain the intended outcome of the proposed regulation, consumers need to be educated about dietary fats and use of food labels. According to the total fat analysis, 47 food products out of 74 were segmented under red category, suggesting the need of active regulations to limit the fat present in processed foods available in Sri Lanka. As well as total fat, saturated fatÂ present in food play a significant role in human health and proposed nutrition profile labeling. Hence further studies are needed to assess the amount of saturated fat present in processed foods available in Sri Lanka.
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