MANILA, Philippines—Alarmed by the growing problem of obesity in the country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a campaign to encourage more food companies to print nutrition labels on the front of their product packages to help consumers make informed choices toward a more healthy lifestyle.
In partnership with the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc., the FDA campaign has led to “tens of thousands” of food products in the market now bearing nutrition labels in the front apart from the usual nutrition facts on the back, FDA Director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan Go said in a news briefing Thursday.
“At present, nutrition facts are printed on the back of every product. But when they are stacked in the supermarket, what consumers immediately see is the front of the package,” Go said.
This, he said, was a gap the FDA intended to address to help consumers make informed choices.
To date, the FDA said, there were 50 food brands that obeyed a circular it issued in December on printing the energy and calorie information of food products on the front of the packages, aside from the nutrition facts printed on the side or back of the packs.
Go said the new campaign was in response to the alarming rate of obesity in the Philippines.
“According to national nutrition surveys by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology, there was an increasing trend in the number of obese and overweight adults between 2003 and 2008,” he said.
Go said that in 1998, around 20 in 100 adults, or 20 percent, were overweight. Ten years later, in 2008, the number rose to 27 percent.
Obesity, Go pointed out, was among the causes of noncommunicable diseases like heart ailments, hypertension and diabetes, which the Department of Health has been trying to curb.
Go discouraged obese Filipinos from resorting to weight-loss measures that promise instant results.