Food reformulation policies aimed at reducing the risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases have been implemented in many countries. The degree of success of reformulation policies in changing the range of food options available to consumers has been a function of the design of these policies. Our objective was to review the different factors making the design and implementation of a food reformulation policy effective at improving populations’ diets and health. In this narrative review, we present a logic model of the action of reformulation policies on consumer behaviour, dietary intake and population health. We set out how policy design could drive outcomes, and highlight the role for governments and public health agencies in promoting food reformulation that is effective in improving diet and health. The key drivers of success for reformulation policies include strong incentives, a tight implementation strategy, a focus on the overall nutritional quality of food products, rather than on individual nutrients, and effective monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, policies should mark the distinction between product reformulation and product differentiation, which have different nutrition and health outcomes.
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