Finance and planning ministers from 11 African countries – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda – are scheduled to attend the so-called Big Table, which will get underway in Addis Ababa on Saturday.The Big Table is an initiative designed by ECA to promote frank, constructive dialogue between African finance ministers and their OECD counterparts. The format and agenda are designed to allow for maximum interactive dialogue, with no formal statements.This year’s discussions will focus on approaches to monitoring the performance of Africa and its partners towards meeting shared goals in the context of mutual accountability.The notion of mutual accountability is a hallmark of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and a manifestation of its appeal for a new “compact” between Africa and its external partners. This compact calls for African countries to undertake the political and economic reforms needed to place their economies on a path towards sustainable growth. In turn, external partners would invest – through aid, debt relief, and market access – the resources needed to help African countries in this effort.
MEALS ADVERTISED as being having low or reduced fat content could ultimately make people put on more weight, the cross-border food safety authority has found.SafeFood says academic studies have shown that people may eat larger-than-recommended portions of food if they are told that a food is low in fat.The study, led by academics from the University of Ulster, indicated that many people associated ‘low fat’ foods with having a low number of calories when this was not always necessarily the case.The research included a survey of 180 adults from across Ireland with a range of body weights, asking them to compare their estimate for a ‘reasonable’ size of regular- and low-calorie foods.Participants were shown three pairs of food – one type of food having lower calories than the other – and asked to measure a reasonable portion, before being asked how guilty they might feel if they ate a full portion.“There has been a huge increase in the number of food products with nutrition and health claims sold over the last 20 years, but we also know that the population’s weight has continued to increase,” explained SafeFood director Cliodhna Foley-Nolan.“The research shows that these foods are viewed by some consumers as a license to overeat. However, in the case of many products, the fat that is removed in the ‘healthier’ product is replaced by other ingredients, such as sugar, and the calorie savings are small,” Foley-Nolan said.“Consumers need to re-look at their portion sizes, as any benefit they might get from these ‘healthier’ processed foods could be undone by just how much of them they are eating.”Professor Barbara Livingstone, who led the University of Ulster study, said the research seemed to affirm the ‘health halo’ effect.“Consumers perceive these products to be healthier and with less calories than the ‘standard’ version food,” she said.“They seem them as representing the less guilty option and so eat more of them. Further education on what is a healthy portion size is warranted to overcome these misconceptions.”Read: 16 tragic things that happen at a sandwich counter