top of page

Food Labelling & Advertising

A little while ago I got into a bit of a disagreement on a Facebook post, I try not to jump in on posts where I see some confusion or misguided advice but, on this occasion, I felt I had to.

The post was signing the praises of the national campaign #Change4Life, now don’t get me wrong I am not entirely against this campaign, any campaign that raises awareness of #health when it comes to #food and #movement is a plus in my book but there are elements that are just so wrong (in my opinion).

100 Calorie Snacks

Now, I am not a fan of counting #calories, I advise adults to re-train their relationship with food to stop viewing it numerically so why would we encourage it with #children? In my view we just shouldn’t.

But there’s more! The types of 100 calorie snacks include;

  • Sugar free jelly

  • Low fat yogurt

  • Scotch pancake

Of course, this campaign also advises the increased consumption of fruit and veg it would be daft not to, but these 100 calorie snacks are all nutrient devoid therefore regardless of how many calories they contain they offer little #nutritional gain, only the low-fat yogurt has anything of any form of #vitamins and #minerals to bring to the party.

Just like the #sugartax this campaign advocates switching from #sugar to #artificial #sweeteners by choosing low sugar/low calorie and #diet versions – in my opinion the over use of artificial sweeteners is contributing to our overall health problems and it is confusing for parents and consumers.

An example

Whilst out with my little boy we needed to stop for lunch, the drinks option for him was a no added sugar juice made from concentrate or a flavoured water. Neither were a suitable choice because they both contained artificial sweeteners, now when you are not used to these everything tastes of #chemicals as they have a very synthetic taste.

We opted instead for a Naked Green #smoothie containing; apples, banana, kiwi, mango, pineapple, spirulina, chlorella, spinach, ginger, blue green algae

Now I know fruit contains #fruit sugar but believe me there’s a lot of #nutrients in this and we were sharing so the portions were fine. How did this green #nutritious drink fare on the Change 4 Life app?

Naked Green Smoothie

The visual implies that there are 12.4 sugar cubes in this drink and offers alternative suggestions in the low sugar drink swap. This means that potentially someone scans this green smoothie assumes someone has added 12 lumps of white refined sugar in and opts for an artificially sweetened nutrient devoid drink instead.

A confusing visual

Therefore, people find food labelling confusing, food is so much more than calories – we are living in an obese yet largely malnourished society and switching to sugar free will not help this.

Improvements since the Change 4 Life campaign?

The Change 4 Life campaign launched in 2009 since then we have seen a large increase in children developing Type 2 Diabetes (this is not me saying it is the fault of the campaign but to show how it hasn't necessarily helped)- Helen Dickens, Diabetes UK Interim Director of Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, said:

“Type 2 Diabetes typically develops in adults over the age of 40, so it is extremely worrying that we are seeing more young people develop the condition.”

The current #obesity stats are worrying, and the future looks even more bleak!

“More than 1 in 5 children are #overweight or #obese when they begin school, and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school” (Public Health England) and the NHS predicts that half of the UK will be obese by 2030 – that’s this generation of children becoming obese adults.

The link with children’s #weight is linked to the #maternal #health with 58% of women of #childbearing age (16 to 44 years) in England were either #overweight or #obese (source #Public #Health #England).

I mentioned empty calories and with good reason! The approach of simply counting calories and demonising a nutritious smoothie offering a #nutrient devoid calorie free option instead is fuelling the rates we are seeing of #malnutrition. This no longer applies to countries who are starving, in fact after the #Global #Nutrition #Report of 2016 the World Health Organisation (#WHO) redefined the meaning of malnutrition as ‘bad diet’.

It is entirely possible to be both obese and malnourished.

I fear this blog is a bit of a rant and I don’t mean it to be! I am all for a national campaign to promote awareness of our worrying and declining health I just wish it was a bit clearer and more #educational on the #nutrient side of things.

My message is to promote awareness of the food and health link rather than following campaigns that could be misleading. If you would like further information on how I work then take a look at the following link :)

Not Your Average Weight Loss Course

This course helps you understand #obesity as a medical combination of issues, I do not simply tell you to eat less and move more! It helps you understand #emotional eating, the truth about diets and what every-day steps you can take.

Family Health, Nutrition Support Course

For more of a 1:1 service I do have a modular family health online course. There's more information on this below.

Once you join a course you then get access to a closed Facebook group and a monthly webinar with me.

I look forward to supporting you & hope to see you soon.

Louise Mercieca

Nutritional Therapist

Personal Trainer

Award-winning Author

Food writer

Presenter on Early Years TV Food

Keynote speaker

30 views0 comments


bottom of page