With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for weight-loss dieters.
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If you are one of the many among us who have already tried all sorts of diets while trying to lose weight, you don’t need anyone telling you ‘just eat less and exercise more’. As everyone knows, it’s much more complicated than that.
On a positive note, the European Union has agreed on uniform labelling requirements, requiring all packaged food to display a list of ingredients and information on nutrition. Whether you are avoiding carbohydrates, fat or sugar, you can compare how much each product contains per 100 grams, as well as its total energy content.
If you decide to go for meal replacement products for a while, the EU has also set specific compositional requirements for them, based on a scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority, to make sure they give you the essential nutrients that your body needs. New, updated rules will apply from October 2022.
In addition, there is legislation in place to protect consumers from false nutrition and health claims. Any claims, such as ‘low fat’ or ‘high fibre’, have to be based on scientific evidence and be authorised for use in the EU.
Drinks can be tricky, too. A drink described as ‘sparkling water with fruit juice’ can contain as many calories as a regular sugary soft drink. And not many people are aware that dry white wine (77kcal per 100 ml), contains more calories than a regular cola (42kcal per 100 ml). For the energy content of alcoholic drinks, you still need to go and search the internet, as alcoholic drinks are exempt from the obligation to list ingredients and nutrition information.
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety website, https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/labelling_legislation_en
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety website, https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/special_groups_food/weight_reduction_en
- European Food Safety Authority’s website, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/science/nutrition