Sports nutrition at risk from HFSS guidelines

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

New rules of HFSS foods risk damaging the sports nutrition industry, claimed ESSNA
New rules of HFSS foods risk damaging the sports nutrition industry, claimed ESSNA

Related tags HFSS Sports nutrition

Poorly defined restrictions on products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in the Government’s obesity regulation efforts could risk damaging the sport nutrition industry, the European Specialist Sport Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) claims.

ESSNA’s comments were in response to a public consultation, ‘Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price: enforcement’.

The group called for the Government to clearly define what products will be regulated as HFSS and issue a clear list of exemptions for products intended for sportspeople to avoid confusing industry and consumers.

ESSNA chair Adam Carey claimed there was a serious gap in the upcoming regulation.

He questioned whether the proposals were based on the Nutrient Profile Model (NPM), which looks at food composition while disregarding the specific purpose sports nutrition products serve. ​ 

Catering for specific needs

“These products are, by design, made with higher levels of certain nutrients to cater to the specific needs of people engaged in high intensity exercise and other forms of activity, and the benefits of these products are very well documented in scientific literature,” ​he explained.

“The Government’s strategy is to tackle childhood obesity. Blanket restrictions without appropriate exemptions and guidance for enforcers and businesses risk damaging a multitude of specialist food sectors – such as the sports nutrition industry – which play a key role in supporting the Government objectives of a healthier, fitter Britain.”

Carey argued that sports nutrition products were not identifiable as HFSS and were not targeted at children. However, they could come under fire from if the Government did not adequately define the types of food items the new legislation would target.

Adequate guidance needed

“The Government needs to provide adequate guidance to enforcement authorities in respect to the products that fall within the scope of the proposed legislation and clearly outline that specialist products, including high protein bars and carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks, should be exempt from HFSS restrictions,” ​Carey added.

“ESSNA fully supports the UK Government’s goal to tackle obesity and improve people's diets. We urge the UK Government to acknowledge and support the contribution of sports nutrition industry on the promotion of healthy diets and active lifestyles.”

Meanwhile, a sweeping ban on promotions for ‘junk food’​ will push up prices for consumers and hinder the production of healthier alternatives, according food trade bodies.

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