The Access to Nutrition Foundation has released its second Access to Nutrition Index® (ATNI), which ranks the 22 largest food and beverage companies on their “contributions to tackling obesity and undernutrition.” According to a concurrent press release, “The 2016 Index concluded that, while some companies have taken positive steps since the last Index, the industry as a whole is moving far too slowly. Scored out of ten on their nutrition-related commitments, practices and levels of disclosure, no company achieved a score of more than 6.4.”

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the 2016 Global Index ranks companies in the following areas: (i) governance, including whether the company has a corporate nutrition strategy; (ii) product formulation and nutrient profiling systems; (iii) efforts to make healthier products accessible to consumers via pricing and distribution; (iv) compliance with marketing practices and policies geared toward general consumers and children; (v) workplace health and wellness programs for employees; (vi) product labeling and use of health and nutrition claims, and (vii) engagement with government, policymakers and stakeholders on corporate nutrition policies and nutrition-related issues. Weighting these scores to determine overall performance “in the context of both obesity and diet-related chronic diseases and undernutrition,” ATNI also provides an in-depth profile on each company that identifies individual strengths and areas for improvement.

In addition, the index evaluates four food and beverage manufacturers and two pharmaceutical companies on their compliance with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code). Taking into account corporate marketing policies and management systems, as well as “in-country” marketing practice assessments, ATNI reports that “none of the six companies’ policies were fully compliant with The Code although there was significant variation in their performance.”

Based on these findings, ATNI recommends that food and beverage companies not only “tackle obesity by adopting stronger nutrition strategies and policies,” but “address the serious problem of undernutrition in lower-income countries, in spite of the challenges presented by these fragile markets.” Among other things, the report calls on manufacturers to strengthen food labeling and market “more responsibly” to children, in addition to applying their nutrition policies globally—not just in their home markets. ATNI also argues that corporate BMS policies should cover “all types of breast-milk substitutes, including infant formula, complementary foods intended for infants under six months of age, follow-on milk and growing-up milk.”

“Given the global reach of their products, food and beverage companies have a critical role to play in helping to tackle the growing global health crisis caused by poor nutrition,” said Access to Nutrition Foundation Executive Director Inge Kauer. “While companies have a social responsibility to tackle global nutrition challenges, doing so also presents a business opportunity as consumers worldwide demand healthier foods.”