Special Correspondent Daily Relation Times

Muhammad Daniyal

Ultra processed foods, often high in sugar, salt, saturated fats, transfats and additives have been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart diseases, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. The alarming rise in consumption of these foods poses a grave threat to the public health and well-being of the Nation. Front of pack nutrition labels on food have been successfully implemented in other countries as a mean of guiding consumers towards making healthier food choices. We demand government to adopt effective regulations of front of pack nutrition labels and warning signs on all ultra-processed food. This was said by the health experts in an event with media organized by Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) at a local hotel in Islamabad.
Hafeez ullah Khan assured the cooperation of PSACA in front of pack nutrition labels on ultra-processed foods.
Dr. Shakeel Mirza said that the rapid increase in non-communicable diseases in Pakistan is alarming. Pakistan has become the first country in the world with fastest growth of diabetes worldwide. Pakistan is among the countries in the world where the consumption of sugar, salt, transfats and saturated fats is much higher than the limit set by WHO. Unhealthy foods such as sugar, salt, saturated fats, transfats and fried foods leads to many non-communicable diseases including heart, diabetes, kidney and many types of cancers. He said that major part of our diet shall consist of seasonal vegetable and fruits.
Mr. Munawar Hussain said that front of pack nutrition labels on ultra-processed foods are a crucial step in helping consumers make informed choices about the foods they purchase. Several countries in the world has already implemented front of pack nutrition labels on processed foods and the evidence is encouraging. Such measures are required to be implemented in Pakistan. He urged media to help mobilizing the policy support for enacting regulation on front of pack nutrition labels and warning signs on all ultra-processed foods.
Dr. Khawaja. Masood Ahmed said that ministry of health realizes that FOPWLs are a significant step to reduce the disease burden in the country. He indicated that the current regulatory pathway is complex and we are working with Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority in adopting a more efficient pathway to bring the policy change through a single regulation. He assured the support of MoH on such regulations and including those on iTFA limits.
Sanaullah Ghumman said that the media plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and influencing policy decisions. He said that media is strong supporter of PANAH in our campaigns to save its countrymen from heart and related disease. Media has always supported us in our life saving interventions including the increase in taxes on sugary drinks to reduce the disease burden. Now we are requesting your support on another lifesaving policy change and where we are working with Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority for front of pack nutrition labels and warning signs on all ultra-processed foods.
Abdul Hafeez thanked all the participants on behalf of PANAH. He said that we are thankful to civil society and media for their participation in the event.
Those who attended the event include Dr. Khawaja Masood Ahmed, National Coordinator Nutrition & NFA MoH, Consultant at Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Mr. Munawar Hussain, Additional Vice President PANAH Col. Dr. Shakeel Ahmed Morza. Ex-commissioner and member executive council of PANAH Mr. Abdul Hafeez, General Secretary Kidney Patient Welfare Association Mr. Ghulam Abbas, representatives of electronic and print media. Mr. Director General Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) was the chief guest of the occasion. Secretary General PANAH, Sanaullah Ghumman hosted the event.

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