Poster Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting

An evaluation of manufacturer-declared serving size of discretionary packaged products in Australia (#282)

Hila Haskelberg 1 , Bruce Neal 1 , Elizabeth Dunford 1 , Vicki Flood 2 3 , Anna Rangan 3 , Beth Thomas 4 , Xenia Cleanthous 4 , Helen Trevena , Jazzmin M Zheng 1 3 , Jimmy CY Louie 3 , Timothy Gill 3 , Jason HY Wu 1
  1. The George Institute for Global Health, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
  2. St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
  3. University of Sydney, Sydney
  4. National Heart Foundation, Melbourne

Background: to comprehensively evaluate manufacturer-declared serving size of commonly consumed discretionary food and beverage products in Australia, and to compare declared serving size practices to Australian Dietary Guideline standard serves.

Methods: Manufacturer-declared serving size data was obtained between July to September 2013 for all packaged, discretionary foods and beverage products available for sale at four large supermarkets in Sydney, Australia. The distribution (median and interquartile range, IQR) of serving size within categories was summarized. Additionally, products that were available in multiple package sizes were identified, and their serving size variability was determined as the percent difference between the extreme serving sizes observed across different package sizes. Percent of products with serving size above the standard discretionary serve of 600 kJ was also determined.

Results: A high variation of serving size was found within the majority of the 15 discretionary food and beverage categories analyzed (n=4,466 products). For example, the median(IQR) energy per serving size for the cakes and muffins category was 835(606, 1212) kJ. Declared serving size for products with multiple package sizes also showed extremely high variation, including for commonly consumed snack foods including crisps and snacks and chocolate confectioneries, with median percent difference between extreme of serving size of 137 and 183%, respectively. In ~50% of the categories, more than 50% of products had energy per serve above the standard discretionary serve of 600 kJ.

Conclusion: our data demonstrated that large variability in declared serving sizes in discretionary food and beverage items in Australia is the norm in the absence of a strong regulatory environment, which may reduce the effectiveness of serving size guidance. These results indicate the need to not only adopt policy efforts to standardize serving sizes, but also to develop new reference serving size targets that encourage reduced energy intake from discretionary foods.