By Grant J Everett
How many kilojoules are there in a Mars bar? How many kilojoules make up a calorie? And how much running would you have to do to work that Mars bar off your butt again? After putting up with years of confusing, misleading and sometimes flat-out dodgy nutritional information on foods that we eat every day, there is now a major push to simplify what those lovely, bright packets are saying to us (besides “EAT ME,” of course).
Imagine if you picked up a Cadbury family block and were instantly able to know how much exercise it would take to burn off all those calories. Would this affect your dietary choices? If you were simply after a rare treat then maybe not, but this whole idea suddenly gets a lot more important when you consider that many of the “healthier” options we have to choose from may not be as good for us as we’ve been lead to believe.
Ever been to the so-called health-food aisle in a supermarket? Look closely at any of those packets and I guarantee that if you know what you’re looking for, most of the things in this deceptive aisle are worse for you than the ordinary stuff. So how can they justify putting artery-clogging, heart-bursting, wobble-creating junk in the health food aisle, of all places? Trickery, that’s how. Two examples: dairy-free chocolate blocks and “natural” muesli bars with no artificial sweeteners. Their active ingredients? Well, I’d like to introduce you to Mister Fat and Missus Sugar! But it gets worse: in one of the most galling acts of misdirection available on our shelves, if something is “gluten free” then it can legally be sold as health food, and the product is allowed to be classed as such even if it’s fifty percent sugar!
But what can we do? There are a few theories about what could be introduced to help the average Joe or Jill make more informed decisions on what they are eating, and a good example are the Red, Yellow and Green stickers in vending machines. Green is good, Red is bad, Yellow is okay on occasion. Simple and effective.
Another idea is the star rating, similar to the ones you find on fridges and washing machines, except it will be for nutrition instead of electrical efficiency.
Although it may seem to make more sense to simply list the amount of calories that any given food contains and the rough amount of exercise required to shift the resulting flub from that Kit Kat binge, keep in mind “exercise efficiency” involves about a dozen different major factors that are different for everyone. Gender, height, age and even your cultural background will add up to a different equation as to how much regular abuse you will require in the local torture chamber (more commonly known as “working out” in a “gym.”)
Next time you reach for something you think is good for you, look closer. I know I do.
Simple nutrition rules:
1) If it tastes good, it’s probably bad for you
2) Advertising relies heavily on misdirection
3) Things in the health food aisle are NOT ALWAYS healthy
Source: Sarah Berry, SMH