The Heart Foundation’s Tick Programme is having a positive nutritional impact on New Zealand’s food supply, new University of Otago research published in Public Health Nutrition, suggests.

Otago Department of Human Nutrition researchers analysed the nutritional make-up of 45 newly licensed Tick products between 2011 and 2013.

The five food categories they selected to study contributed saturated fat to the New Zealand diet: margarine-type spreads, frozen desserts, yoghurts, ready meals and processed poultry.

The researchers compared the products’ nutritional quality with that of their previous formulation, or if a new product, they compared them with similar non-Tick products.

They calculated that the newly licensed Tick products saw the manufacturers remove four million megajoules of energy, 171 tonnes of saturated fat and trans-fat, and four tonnes of sodium from foods consumers purchased in New Zealand over the study period.

The researchers found that the Tick’s nutritional impact at a population level was influenced more by product sales volume than nutrient content changes. For example, Tick spreads (on average) had only 26 per cent less saturated fat than non-Tick ones, but accounted for 63 per cent of the decrease in saturated fat.

Study co-author Dr Louise Mainvil says the findings provide a snapshot of the recent impact the Tick programme has been having since its introduction by the Heart Foundation of New Zealand in 1991. “This programme appears to be improving the nutrient content of some foods sold in New Zealand, which in turn may help improve population dietary intakes and health outcomes,” Dr Mainvil says. Further research was required to establish the impact of the entire programme on the nation’s health, she says.

This article is freely available for 2 weeks: ‘Tick front-of-pack label has a positive nutritional impact on foods sold in New Zealand’  Rachel K Thomson,Rachael M McLean, Sherry X Ning and Louise A Mainvil

Image Credit: ‘Heart Foundation Tick’

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