How many foods in the UK carry health and nutrition claims, and are they healthier than those that do not?
© 2015 The Authors. Objective The present study aimed to measure the prevalence of different types of health and nutrition claims on foods and non-alcoholic beverages in a UK sample and to assess the nutritional quality of such products carrying health or nutrition claims. Design A survey of health and nutrition claims on food packaging using a newly defined taxonomy of claims and internationally agreed definitions of claim types. Setting A national UK food retailer: Tesco. Subjects Three hundred and eighty-two products randomly sampled from those available through the retailer's website. Results Of the products, 32 % (95 % CI 28, 37 %) carried either a health or nutrition claim; 15 % (95 % CI 11, 18 %) of products carried at least one health claim and 29 % (95 % CI 25, 34 %) carried at least one nutrition claim. When adjusted for product category, products carrying health claims tended to be lower in total fat and saturated fat than those that did not, but there was no significant difference in sugar or sodium levels. Products carrying health claims had slightly higher fibre levels than products without. Results were similar for comparisons between products that carry nutrition claims and those that do not. Conclusions Health and nutrition claims appear frequently on food and beverage products in the UK. The nutrient profile of products carrying claims is marginally healthier than for similar products without claims, suggesting that claims may have some but limited informational value. The implication of these findings for guiding policy is unclear; future research should investigate the 'clinical relevance' of these differences in nutritional quality.