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Food intended for sportspeople and weight reduction: the regulations

Summer is over, and everyone thinks about getting back in shape. People starts exercising again, also following an appropriate diet, and may be with the support of specific products. Foods intended for sportspeople and for weight reduction are a growing sector, that can count on a great variety of products for every kind of need.

It is, however, a regulated sector, and the marketing of these products should meet some requirements regarding classification and labelling.

Unfortunately, in contrast with other food categories (such as formulae for infants, or food for special medical purposes), sportspeople are not considered a class of persons with special nutrition needs.

Therefore, when Regulation (EU) 609/2013 became effective, and Directive 2009/39/EC on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses was abrogated, diet products for sportspeople were conformed to the horizontal food legislation.

At international level, the Food Chain Evaluation Consortium (FCEC) identified 3 categories:

  • sport drinks
  • protein based products
  • energy products.

However, such classification found no room in the application of the norms, and claims have a much greater regulatory value. Specific claims for some nutrition substance:

  • proteins
  • carbohydrates-electrolytes
  • vitamin C

are currently approved.

Foods for weight reduction presented as total diets are mainly regulated by Directive 96/8/EC – on foods intended for use in energy-restricted diets for weight reduction –, and by Directive 2007/29/EC, regulating their labelling and advertising.

For this category of food, however, new regulatory provisions are expected: the new Delegated Regulation 2017/1798 will apply as of 2022, including specific compositional and information requirements for total diet replacement for weight control.

At the moment, the norms define the composition of these products in terms of nutrients, nutrition declaration, obligations on information to consumer. In particular, any reference to the time required or to the amount of the weight loss following their use as well as the use of any claim is forbidden.

Written By: Maria Pia Felici

Foto di Vidmir Raic da Pixabay