urged to resist falling for unregulated health claim
are being urged to be wary of foods which claim to be ‘natural' with new
research showing that almost 5 in 10 ‘natural' products are high in saturated
fat, sugar and/or salt.
LiveLighter analysed the nutritional quality of 331 supermarket foods with the words
‘natural' or ‘nature' on the packaging and found that 154 (47%) were not a core part of a healthy diet, as recommended by the
Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.1
this, more than three in five Australian adults said they were more likely to
buy food or drinks described as ‘natural'.2
Victoria Campaign Manager and Accredited Practicing Dietitian Alison McAleese
warned that natural doesn't always equal healthy.
because something says it's natural, doesn't mean it's good for you," Ms McAleese
natural can be very hard to define and in Australia there are no clear
guidelines for its use on food and drink products, leaving manufacturers free
to use the word in a way consumers might not expect."
Of the 97
‘natural' foods found in the snack food aisles, almost 9 in 10 were found to be
unhealthy3 and should not regularly be part of a healthy diet.
that ‘natural' is most commonly used on products like snack bars, muesli bars,
chips, lollies, crackers and biscuits located in the snack food aisles of the
supermarket," Ms McAleese said.
the majority of these items are high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt and
should not be eaten on a regular basis."
use the words natural or nature in a product name or to describe a product,
such as Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup with ‘natural' ingredients and Ajitas Vege
Chips ‘Natural' flavour, while others go as far as to feature ‘natural' in
their company name, for example the Natural Chip Company and The Natural
Foundation Victoria Healthy Living Manager Roni Beauchamp said if you're
looking for a snack that is truly natural and good for you, steer clear of the products
in the snack aisles entirely.
the outer aisles of the supermarket where you'll find an abundance of
nutritious foods to snack on, like seasonal fruit, vegetables like celery and
carrots which you can cut up and enjoy with hummus or ricotta cheese and
reduced-fat plain or Greek yoghurt," Ms Beauchamp said.
consider doing your food shopping at greengrocers, markets, butchers and fish
mongers, where you are more likely to be presented with less processed,
Which types of food and drink products carried natural claims?
47 per cent
of natural claims were found on discretionary foods (foods high in saturated
fat, salt and/or added sugar) – including snack bars and muesli bars, chips, crackers,
biscuits and lollies.
21 per cent
were found on dairy products – including yoghurt, milk and cheese.
16 per cent
were on meat and alternatives – including fish, eggs, nuts and legumes.
10 per cent
were on grain foods – including breakfast cereals, quinoa and bread.
5 per cent
were on fruit.
2 per cent
were on water.
1 per cent
were on vegetables – including legumes and beans.
researchers searched Coles and Woolworths online for products which include the
word natural, nature or nature's in the brand or product name or on the item's
packaging. A total of 603 products were found across the supermarkets' online
shopping websites. This included 272 non-food items such as vitamins, cleaning
products, toiletries, clothing and pet food.
About LiveLighter: LiveLighter
public health education campaign which encourages Victorians to lead healthier
lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active. Delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria and Heart
Foundation, the LiveLighter campaign is funded by the Victorian State
Government. For more information visit www.livelighter.com.au
- Food and drinks which did not fall into one of the five
core food groups as recommended in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) were deemed ‘unhealthy' in the report. These are discretionary
foods which the AGHE recommends eating only sometimes and in small amounts.
- 12% of people said they were ‘very likely' to be influenced by the term
natural, while a further 50% were ‘somewhat likely' to be influenced when asked
in a LiveLighter survey of 2,000 Australians aged 25-49 conducted in July 2016.
- The Food
Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrient
Profiling Tool was used to calculate the healthiness of products found in the
snack food aisles. This score was then used to determine if it falls into one
of the five core food groups in the Australian
Guide to Healthy Eating.