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Benchmarking the commitments related to population nutrition and obesity prevention of major food companies in New Zealand

Abstract

Objectives

To benchmark comprehensiveness, specificity and transparency of the nutrition-related commitments of major food companies in New Zealand.

Methods

We applied the Business Impact Assessment on Obesity and Population Level Nutrition (BIA-Obesity). The largest 25 New Zealand companies in each of the packaged food (n = 15), non-alcoholic beverage (n = 2), supermarket (n = 2) and quick-service restaurant (n = 6) sectors were selected. Publicly available information on commitments was collected through an online search. Representatives from each company were asked to review and/or supplement the information collected. Commitments were then assessed, and recommendations made at the company and sector levels.

Results

Overall scores ranged from 0 to 75% across all companies with a median score of 38%. The best-performing domain was ‘corporate nutrition strategy’ (median score = 55%), and the worst-performing domain was ‘product accessibility’ (median score = 0%). Twelve out of 25 companies fully engaged with the process.

Conclusions

The comprehensiveness, specificity and transparency of company commitments varied but were low overall. In the absence of strong industry commitments, government regulations, such as restrictions on unhealthy food marketing, are urgently needed. Future assessments should incorporate performance measures.

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Acknowledgements

GS is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE160100307) and a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. He is also a researcher within NHMRC Centres for Research Excellence entitled Reducing Salt Intake Using Food Policy Interventions (APP1117300) and a Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (APP1152968) (Australia).

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Correspondence to Stefanie Vandevijvere.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (UAHPEC) (reference number Ref. 018597) and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Kasture, A., Vandevijvere, S., Robinson, E. et al. Benchmarking the commitments related to population nutrition and obesity prevention of major food companies in New Zealand. Int J Public Health 64, 1147–1157 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-019-01272-7

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Keywords

  • Food company
  • Accountability
  • Population nutrition
  • Commercial determinants of health
  • Obesity
  • Policy