Is the global diet getting sweeter?

A Thought Leader interview on News Medical with Barry Popkin features information about sweeteners in processed foods, regulatory efforts and initiatives, and predictions for the future of food in our world.

What do you think the future holds for the global diet?

There’s two issues here. The current future, the way the global diet’s going across the world, there’s a rapid increase in what I call ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat foods, convenience foods. They could be bars and cereals that you can eat right away or they may be items you need to heat up, frozen dinners or things you purchase in the store that you take home and heat up. That’s been a massive change.

On the other hand, we have this push both in Europe and in the US and increasingly in some low income countries to go back to a more traditional way of cooking food and eating real food.

These two different pushes are clashing. Right now, the retail sector’s winning out. By far the biggest growth is in proportion of the world’s population and the absolutely numbers consuming processed packaged foods.

There certainly is a push to eat healthier real food, but it’s so far affecting mainly upper educated populations in the US and Europe of consuming and cooking and going back to eating real food only or mainly real foods   such as fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, meats that you can buy in the store and then  cook them.

I’d say right now the future holds for the global diet essentially a worsening of what we have, except for the countries that are now seriously adding many, many regulatory efforts to try to change the diet. We do not know what will happen from those.

Chile’s a global leader in attempting to create a healthier diet.  First they instituted the beverage tax. They’re now instituted a ban on marketing to children of unhealthy foods and beverages. Very soon, they’re going to implement a law that’s been passed to ban all unhealthy food marketed to all groups between 6am and 10pm, which is all encompassing and includes all media, movie, TV, and the internet which display any of these unhealthy foods so that marketers will only be able to market what they term healthy foods, which are lower in sodium, added sugars, unhealthy fats and calories.

We don’t know how these regulations in countries like Chile, France and others are really going to impact our diet. It’s part of the global push by countries to try to control the really health costs which are kind of running out of control in terms of obesity, diabetes and all the cancers.

Read the full interview here.