The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a leading country worldwide in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which alone can explain 73% of mortality in the country. In response to the heavy burden of NCDs, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), in collaboration with other government entities, developed a healthy food strategy (HFS) aimed at enhancing healthy lifestyles and reducing the intake of salt, sugar, saturated fatty acids (SSF) and trans fatty acids (TFA). The objectives of the HFS, to facilitate consumers' identification of SSF and reduce the SSF and TFA content in food items, were addressed in collaboration with key stakeholders in the public and private sectors of the food industry. These reforms included voluntary and mandatory schemes to display nutrition information in food and beverage establishments, display allergens on food menus, encourage the adoption of front of pack nutrient labels (FoPNLs) on food products, ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils and establish limits for sodium composition in breads and selected food products. This manuscript contextualizes the HFS and presents the results of monitoring initiatives undertaken by the SFDA to assess compliance with these reforms.
Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean region; KSA; health policies; non-communicable diseases; nutrient labels; nutrition; obesity; trans fatty acids.