Due to rising global rates of childhood obesity, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the adoption of policies to restrict children's exposure to the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages. In 2017, the Slovenian government introduced regulations to restrict the advertisement of unhealthy foods and beverages during designated children's television programming. The objective of our study was to assess the impact of these regulations on children's exposure to food advertising, including during children's programmes and at peak viewing times for children. Using a standardised methodology, we investigated a large sample of 6479 food advertisements broadcast during 1652 h of television programming between 2016 and 2018 on the five most popular television channels for children aged 4-9 years. Advertised food products were coded using the WHO Regional Office for Europe Nutrient Profile Model, modified for Slovenia. The average overall frequency of not permitted (unhealthy) food advertising (±SD; standard deviation) per hour was 2.90 ± 3.22 (2016), 2.66 ± 3.55 (2017), or 2.13 ± 3.04 (2018) ads/h/channel. The frequency of not permitted food ads decreased to 0.02 ± 0.01 per h/channel during cartoons and other children's programmes in 2018. The new Slovenian food marketing regulations have reduced the advertising of unhealthy foods during children's programmes. However, children's viewership rates are also high outside of this designated programming and, as such, children's overall exposure to unhealthy food advertising is unlikely to have been reduced considerably by the regulations. Future policy interventions should be planned to cover not only children's programmes but also broadcasting periods that include the greatest numbers of child viewers. The implementation of such policies would be more challenging given that children's peak viewing times often intersect with prime time.
Excessive free sugars consumption is associated with poor health outcomes. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting free sugars intake to no more than 10% of total energy intake. To evaluate current intakes of dietary sugars and monitor the adherence to the guidelines, the objective of this study was to comprehensively assess total and free sugars consumption of different age groups within the Slovenian population. The Slovenian national food consumption survey SI.Menu 2017/18 was conducted on representative samples of adolescents (10–17 years), adults (18–64 years), and the elderly (65–74 years) using two non-consecutive 24-h dietary recalls. The analyses were carried out on a sample of 1248 study participants. Free sugars content in food was estimated based on previously established databases. The population weighted median free sugars intake accounted for 10.1% of total energy intake (TEI) among adolescents, 6.4% among adults, and 6.5% in the elderly population. Both total and free sugars consumption in the percentage of TEI were higher among women than men, in participants with lower education, and those with higher family net income. The main sources of free sugars in adolescents were beverages, cakes, muffins, pastry, and dairy products; for adults and the elderly, the key sources of free sugars were beverages, cakes, muffins, pastry, and sugars, honey, and related products. A total of 56% of adolescents, 84% of adults, and 81% of the elderly population adhered to the WHO free sugars guidelines. Additional measures will be required to further decrease free sugars consumption among the teenage population, in which dietary patterns are still of greatest concern.
This paper focuses on changes in food consumption that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to map changes at individual consumer level and identify the influence of different factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic on changes in individual food consumption. We conducted a cross-sectional online survey among 2,680 residents of Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), and Slovenia (SI) using quota sampling for gender, age and regional distribution. Data on consumption frequencies before and during the pandemic were collected with a food frequency questionnaire in the spring of 2020 (during the first lockdown period) for important types of fresh food and non-perishable food. Our results showed that, depending on the type of food, 15–42% of study participants changed their consumption frequency during the pandemic, compared to before. In all the study countries, the food categories with the highest rates of change were frozen food, canned food, and cake and biscuits; among the food categories with lower rates of change were bread, alcoholic drinks, and dairy products. People across all three countries shopped less frequently during lockdown and there was an overall reduction in the consumption of fresh foods, but an increase in the consumption of food with a longer shelf life in Denmark and Germany. Interestingly though, we observed diverging trends in all food categories analyzed, with some people decreasing and others increasing their consumption frequencies, demonstrating that the pandemic had different impacts on people's lifestyles and food consumption patterns. Using the method of multinomial regression analysis, we identified factors significantly (p ( 0.01, p ( 0.05, p ( 0.1) related to increases and decrease in individuals' consumption frequencies in different food categories. The factors include restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic (i.e., closure of physical workplaces, canteens, cafés and restaurants, schools, and childcare institutions), changes in households' grocery shopping frequency, individuals' perceived risk of COVID-19, income losses due to the pandemic, and socio-demographic factors. Interesting differences between the countries were detected, allowing insights into the different food cultures. Conclusions include implications for policy-makers and actors in the food supply chain on the issues of healthy diets, food system resilience, and behavior change.
Vitamin D (VitD) has a critical role in phosphorous–calcium metabolism as well as an important role in the immune system. In the human body, VitD is synthesized as cholecalciferol in the skin, but this process requires sunlight (UVB) radiation. Numerous reports showed high prevalence of VitD deficiency, particularly during the winter season, indicating the importance of VitD supplementation. Various factors can affect the absorption of VitD, including dosage and formulation. The primary study objective was to examine the efficiency of supplementation with three different formulations containing cholecalciferol in comparison with the control group. The secondary objective was to identify other factors affecting increase in serum 25-OH-VitD. A randomized controlled intervention study was conducted in Slovenia during wintertime (January– March) on 105 apparently healthy subjects (aged 18–65 years) with suboptimal VitD status (25-OH-VitD 30–50 nmol/L). Subjects were randomized into four groups: three treatment groups receiving (A) capsules with starch-adsorbed VitD, (B) oil-based Valens VitD oral spray, or (C) water-based Valens VitD oral spray and a control group (D) which did not receive supplemental VitD. Two months of supplementation with cholecalciferol (1000 IU; 25 µg daily) resulted in significant increase in serum 25-OH-VitD levels in comparison with control group (pooled ?c 32.8 nmol/L; 95% CI: 23.0, 42.5, p ( 0.0001). While we did not observe any significant differences between the tested formulations, the efficiency of supplementation was associated with body mass index and baseline serum 25-OH-VitD level. Higher supplementation efficiency was observed in participants with normal body weight (BMI ( 25) and in those with more pronounced VitD insufficiency. We also determined that tested dosage was not sufficient to achieve recommended 25-OH-VitD levels in all subjects.
Salt plays a major role in food manufacturing and affects the technological and sensory properties of foods. At the same time, high dietary salt intake increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and represents a considerable public health concern. In many populations, bread is a major contributor to salt intake and is therefore targeted by health policies recommending salt reduction reformulations. However, producers are often reluctant to reduce salt content due to fears of potential negative effects on consumer acceptability and drops in sales. The present work aims to assess the effect of salt content on consumers’ hedonic liking and perception of saltiness intensity, as well as the interaction of these two. The study was conducted using two market-leading bread types (white and multigrain) and bread samples with the national average (reference), reduced (-15%) and increased (+10%) salt levels. A sensory evaluation study (n = 200) was done including a questionnaire on attitudes and behaviour regarding bread and salt, enabling the exploration of individual differences in reactions to modified levels of salt content. The latter only affected hedonic liking for the multigrain sample with 15% salt reduction but not for others, which discloses the importance of the bread matrix; and it did not affect the perception of saltiness intensity. Penalty analysis revealed that perceived non-optimal saltiness results in significantly penalised hedonic liking scores. Segmentation based on perceived saltiness disclosed the explanatory importance of underlying consumer behaviour dimensions which should be considered in designing bread reformulations.