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Does the Australian Health Star Rating system encourage added sugar reformulation? Trends in sweetener use in Australia

Russell, Cherie, Dickie, Sarah, Baker, Phillip and Lawrence, Mark 2021, Does the Australian Health Star Rating system encourage added sugar reformulation? Trends in sweetener use in Australia, Nutrients, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 1-13, doi: 10.3390/nu13030898.

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Title Does the Australian Health Star Rating system encourage added sugar reformulation? Trends in sweetener use in Australia
Author(s) Russell, CherieORCID iD for Russell, Cherie orcid.org/0000-0003-1251-4810
Dickie, Sarah
Baker, PhillipORCID iD for Baker, Phillip orcid.org/0000-0002-0802-2349
Lawrence, MarkORCID iD for Lawrence, Mark orcid.org/0000-0001-6899-3983
Journal name Nutrients
Volume number 13
Issue number 3
Article ID 898
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Publisher MDPI
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publication date 2021-03
ISSN 2072-6643
2072-6643
Keyword(s) added sugar
food policy
health star rating
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
non-nutritive sweeteners
nutrient profiling
Nutrition & Dietetics
Science & Technology
ultra-processed food
Summary Dietary risk factors, including excess added sugar intake, are leading contributors to Australia’s burden of disease. An objective of the Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) system is to encourage the reformulation of packaged foods. Manufacturers may improve a product’s HSR by replacing added sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS). Concerns have been raised regarding the potential substitution effects of ultra-processed foods containing NNS for whole foods, and the long-term impact this may have on population health. The aim of this study was to determine whether the implementation of the HSR system has impacted the use of added sugars and NNS in the food supply. Four product categories were used: products with no added sweetener, products containing added sugar only, products containing NNS only, and products containing a combination of added sugar and NNS. Of 6477 newly released products analyzed displaying a HSR in Australia between 2014–2020, 63% contained added sugars. The proportion of new products sweetened with added sugars increased over time, while NNS use did not, despite a higher average and median HSR for products sweetened with NNS. These findings suggest that at the current time, the HSR system may not discourage the use of added sugars in new products or incentivize the reformulation of added sugar with NNS. As the health risks of NNS are questioned, increased reformulation of products with NNS to reduce the presence of added sugar in the food supply may not address broader health concerns. Instead, supporting the promotion of whole foods and drinks should be prioritized, as well as policy actions that reduce the proliferation and availability of UPFs.
Language eng
DOI 10.3390/nu13030898
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0908 Food Sciences
1111 Nutrition and Dietetics
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30149210

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.