This project assesses the largest Belgian, French and European food companies in terms of policies and commitments, as well as performance and practices, related to population nutrition and obesity prevention. Three major food industry sectors are screened: supermarkets, food and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers, and quick service restaurants. The purpose is to highlight where food companies are demonstrating leadership in relation to population nutrition and obesity prevention, and identify areas for improvement.
This study is conducted by researchers within Sciensano (Brussels) and the ‘Institut national de la recherche agronomique’ (INRA — Paris). It is part of a larger European project on Science and Technology in Childhood Obesity Prevention (STOP) led by Imperial College London.
The project forms a part of INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support), a global network of public-interest organisations and researchers that seeks to monitor and benchmark public and private sector actions to create healthy food environments and reduce obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) globally. INFORMAS is coordinated by the University of Auckland.
The BIA-Obesity consists of a range of indicators across six action domains (corporate nutrition strategy, product formulation, product labelling, product and brand promotion, product accessibility, relationships with other organisations). Indicators are sector-specific and are tailored for the purposes of this project to the European context.
These methods were adapted from the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) that benchmarks the nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure practices of global food and beverage manufacturers.
This process results in the development of scorecards for each company to enable comparison at a sector level both nationally and internationally. The project clearly highlights areas in which companies are demonstrating leadership in the prevention of obesity, and indicates specific areas for improvement at a company, sector and industry level.
The intention is to repeat this process on a regular basis and thus to track progress over time. The findings will be communicated broadly as part of efforts to increase awareness and accountability for action.