A worldwide growth in overweight and obesity has led to an increase of cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, certain types of cancer, and other noncommunicable diseases.
The World Health Organization has acknowledged the magnitude of this problem in the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (2004) which resulted in specific recommendations for the food industry:
- limit levels of saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and salt in existing products;
- issue simple, clear and consistent food labels
- help consumers to make informed and healthy food choices
The Choices Programme was introduced in 2006 in response to this WHO call to the food industry. The Choices Programme is a multi-stakeholder initiative which helps consumers to easily select healthy food options. The programme relies on product criteria that use international dietary guidelines as their basis and are reviewed by independent scientific committees. These criteria can be used for product reformulation, healthy product offerings and to implement a front-of-pack logo that can be found on food products that fulfill the Choices criteria.
Currently, Choices has national programmes in The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Czech Republic and has established cooperation with other European, Latin American and Asian countries. The Choices Programme is an initiative growing every day and its visibility around the world continues to increase.
In parallel to the programme’s development, independent scientific research into the effects of the Choices logo is being carried out by many scientists around the world and summarised in a research overview.
If you wonder what the added value of joining might be, read the ten reasons to become a member of the Choices Programme.
Government and EU endorsement
The Choices Programme offers the possibility for concrete and visible action that is compatible with any health policy agenda. Its positive and indiscriminative approach is also attractive to many stakeholders. The programme is highly credible, it is voluntary and self-regulating. Overall, the Choices Programme globally supports governments, scientists and food companies to improve the healthiness of consumers’ lifestyles.
On 16 April 2013, the Dutch version of the Choices Logo (‘Vinkje’) has received EU and national approval. The logo is now the single food choice logo for the Netherlands. The World Health Organization has identified Choices as one of the few validated nutrient profiling systems. This has led to the establishment of Choices as a platform for information and expertise sharing between positive front-of-pack logo systems, scientists, companies and public authorities. Currently, the Choices Foundation supports different countries in the implementation of positive logo systems.
Watch this video to learn about the vision of Dr. João Breda from WHO Europe on front-of-pack labelling.
Dutch Minister of Health
Watch this video to learn about the vision of Minister Schippers, the Dutch Minister of Health, on Choices and product innovation.