Healthier meals at home
This is the third thrust in HPB’s Food Strategy where it partners with supermarket outlets.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has kicked off the third thrust of its three-pronged Food Strategy, an initiative that was announced a year ago, which focuses on enabling consumers to prepare healthier, tasty meals at home. HPB has partnered with supermarket chains Cold Storage, FairPrice, Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong, as well as food manufacturers such as Ayam Brand, Nestle and Prima Taste, to increase the awareness of healthier choice options and encourage shoppers to choose healthier products.
Across the island, a total of 235 supermarket outlets are participating in the “Shop Healthy. Get More from Life” campaign. The campaign, which runs till November 30, 2015, will see these supermarkets promoting products with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) and shoppers standing a chance to win prizes for making HCS purchases.
Singaporeans will be “nudged” at various decision points including:
· In the vicinity: Roadshows, ad walkers, promotional flyers and bus-stop posters where shoppers can find out more about the campaign and purchasing of healthier products.
· Storefront: Campaign banners and publicity posters will further draw shoppers into the supermarkets.
· In-store: HCS product shelves will prominently display HCS products, and promotions and recipe cards will attract shoppers to make their HCS purchases.
· Product aisles: Hanging mobiles and promotional wobblers will act as visual cues to encourage purchases of healthier choice products.
· Check-out counters: Publicity posters and point-of-sale wobblers will further remind shoppers of the incentives in selecting HCS products.
· Customer engagement: At some outlets, there will be instant win activities, roving kitchens and food sampling to demonstrate the use of HCS products to prepare healthier and tasty meals.
At the launch of the campaign recently, A/Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, highlighted the importance of eating right at home. “With 68 percent of Singaporeans having at least one meal a day at home, supermarket chains and food manufacturers are natural partners in our efforts to nudge people to use healthier ingredients when preparing home-cooked meals.
“This is part of our wider Food Strategy to encourage Singaporeans to become accustomed to making the healthier choice their default choice. As a visual identifier, the Healthier Choice Symbol makes it easy for us to pick out healthier options and incorporate them into our diet, allowing us to eat more healthily.”
While the quality of diet of those who eat at home tend to be better than those who eat out, there is still room for improvement. The National Nutrition Survey 2010 showed that among those who eat at least one meal a day at home, more than half exceed their calorie requirements, seven out of 10 Singaporeans consume too much saturated fat or do not even consume one serving of wholegrain, and about a quarter consume too much added sugar.
The survey also showed that Singaporeans who include healthier choice products in their diet have better nutritional profiles, for example, lower saturated fat intake and higher calcium intake as products marked with HCS contain lesser sodium, saturated fat and sugar. Some products are also higher in calcium, dietary fibre and wholegrains, than others in similar food groups.
Since HCS was introduced, the number of HCS products has grown with the increasing acceptance and demand for healthier products. To date, there are 2,500 HCS products available across 70 food categories. HPB will continue to work with retailers and food manufacturers to increase the market share of HCS products from the current 15 percent to 25 percent by 2020, to make healthier products even more accessible to Singaporeans.
Other initiatives on healthier options
The Food Strategy has also provided Singaporeans with increased access to healthier options even when eating out. With 60 percent of Singapore residents usually eating out for lunch or dinner, this is important as it is easy for the recommended daily energy intake to be exceeded, given that each eat-out meal contains an average of 700 to 800 calories.
The launch of the Healthier Dining Programme (HDP) in June 2014 has seen HPB partner restaurants and food court chains to offer healthier and affordable food options such as 500-calorie meals. Kopitiam, NTUC Foodfare and Koufu have made it mandatory for their tenants to include at least one healthier meal in their menus, and healthier options are now available at 545 stalls in 39 food courts islandwide.
In total, more than 1,130 F&B outlets including restaurants, cafés, kiosks and caterers, and food courts and hawker stalls are serving healthier meals, making healthier choices increasingly accessible for diners. This represents 38 different food service providers on board the programme, more than double the number of partners since its launch.
There has also been an upward trend in demand for healthier meals at participating eateries. In May 2015, 950,000 healthier meals were sold, an 81 percent increase compared to the 525,000 healthier meals sold in June 2014. In total, more than 9.4 million healthier meals have been sold since the launch of the Healthier Dining Programme. On the basis that an average of 250 calories can be averted with each healthier meal consumed, an equivalent of 2.4 billion calories has been saved, over a year, in the Singapore population.
To encourage Singaporeans to choose reduced sugar or no sugar beverages when they dine out, HPB also launched the “Life’s Sweeter with Less Sugar” campaign late last year. A major source of sugar is sweetened drinks, where Singaporeans consume an average of two sweetened drinks a day. Sweetened drinks are a source of excessive calories, contributing about 200 calories or 10 percent of daily caloric allowance. These calories are mainly consumed as empty calories, which have little nutritional value. The campaign which ran from October 2014 to February 2015 saw over 980 drink outlets in food courts, hawker stalls, coffee shops and kiosks in partnership to promote reduced or no-sugar beverages to nudge consumers into making these their default choice. HPB will continue to promote the consumption of these beverages.
Most recently, to encourage Singaporeans to consume a complete healthier meal when dining out, the latest extension of the Healthier Dining Programme launched in June 2015 sees the pairing of healthier food and drinks in a “Enjoy Every Day the Healthy Way” promotion. HPB has worked with Kopitiam and NTUC Foodfare to offer customers discounts when they opt for healthier food or beverage options, in order to nudge them to couple a 500-calorie dish or set meal, with a lower or zero-sugar drink. The promotion started in June 2015 and will run till August 7, 2015.
(** PICTURES: Health Promotion Board)