The WHO has called for governments to improve children’s food environment by implementing restrictions on the marketing of ‘unhealthy’ foods to children. Nutrient profiling (NP) models are used to define ‘unhealthy’ foods and support child-directed food marketing regulations. The aim of the present study was to assess the suitability of the South African NP model (SANPM), developed and validated for health claim regulations, for child-directed food marketing regulations. The SANPM was compared with four NP models specifically developed for such regulations. A representative list of 197 foods was compiled by including all foods advertised on South African free-to-air television channels in 2014 and foods commonly consumed by South African children. The nutritional information of the foods was sourced from food packaging, company websites and a food composition table. Each individual food was classified by each of the five NP models. The percentage of foods that would be allowed according to the different NP models ranged from 6 to 45 %; the models also varied considerably with regard to the type of foods allowed for marketing to children. The majority of the pairwise comparisons between the NP models yielded κ statistics >0·4, indicating a moderate agreement between the models. An almost perfect pairwise agreement (κ =0·948) existed between the SANPM and the UK Food Standards Agency model (United Kingdom Office of Communication nutrient profiling model), a model extensively tested and validated for such regulations. The SANPM is considered appropriate for child-directed food marketing regulations in South Africa.
British Journal of Nutrition / Vol. 116, No. 12, pp.2150-2159