Recent research by PRICELESS SA at the University of Witwatersrand School of Public Health found that there is no evidence that voluntary actions by the food and beverage industry can safeguard public health.
The increasing availability of unhealthy, ultra-processed foods is linked to rising rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and hypertension, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)1. Well-designed, evidence-based fiscal and regulatory policies can improve food environments (the contexts in which people engage with food) by limiting the availability, afford- ability and accessibility of unhealthy foods to reduce consumption and improve public health2. However, the introduction of these policies has been heavily opposed by the food and beverage industry, which favours the use of voluntary actions (VAs) instead of binding government regulations . The use of VAs by the food industry has been endorsed by international bodies, despite similar action taken by the alcohol and tobacco industries being ineffective. Given that VAs often replace evidence-based policies, it is crucial that their effectiveness is evaluated and understood.
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