Australian packaged food unhealthier than UK and US, study finds

Australia's packaged food ranks below UK and US in terms of healthiness.
Australia's packaged food ranks below UK and US in terms of healthiness.  Photo: AFR

The UK and the US both have healthier packaged foods than Australia, new research has found.

The George Institute for Global Health has made the call after analysing more than 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries or territories

They judged the foods using Australia's Health Star Rating system, which tallies the levels of ingredients such as salt, sugar and saturated fats in foods to rank how healthy they are on a scale of 0.5 to 5.

The UK had the highest average rating of 2.83, ahead of the US on 2.82 and Australia on 2.81.

On the other end, India's package foods had the worst average rating at 2.27, with China second from the bottom at 2.43 and Chile at 2.44.

Lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Dunford said people are eating more packaged foods across the globe but the quality of that food clearly varies, with some poorer nations copping the worst of it.

"Unfortunately it's the poorer nations that are least able to address the adverse health consequences that have the unhealthiest foods," she said.

Drilling down into the nutrients in foods, the UK scored best for sugar with just 3.8 grams per 100 grams of package food on average.

China had the highest average sugar content, at 8.3g per 100g, with India behind it at 7.3g.

Canada had the saltiest foods, with an average of 291 milligrams of sodium per 100g of food.

Slovenia had the lowest levels of sodium at 80mg per 100g, followed by Chile at 140mg.

AAP