Introduction The consumption of processed foods is associated with chronic diseases and obesity. Despite nutritional information on the label being mandatory in Brazil, this information is poorly understood by the population. The use of Traffic Light Labelling (TLL) may be a good alternative to help consumers with their choices. This study analysed processed meats consumed by Brazilian adolescents according to the UK regulation (TLL).
Methods In 2008, a population-based survey was conducted in São Paulo, Brazil. Dietary data from 170 adolescents were obtained through one 24-h dietary recall. The TLL uses traffic light signals: red (high), yellow (medium) and green (low), to represent the percentages of sugar, total and saturated fat and salt in pre-packed foods. The content of salt, total and saturated fat was calculated for processed meats consumed.
Results The processed meats represented 27% of total meat consumed. Almost 80% of processed meats had more sodium and 50% more saturated and total fat than the maximum recommended by TLL regulations, for example, bacon has more than four times the amount of sodium and twice the amount of total and saturated fat than TLL. The most frequently consumed processed meats were pork sausage, hamburger, nuggets, mortadella and sausage. Among these foods, pork sausage, nuggets, mortadella and sausage should be presented with a red colour on the packet for the all nutrients and the hamburger should be yellow, indicating which of these foods should be avoided.
Conclusion These results emphasise the need for specific regulation for processed foods, especially processed meats in order to avoid the burden of chronic diseases.
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