The Biggest Obstacle to Good Health: Mainstream Media

At a time when so many people are struggling with their health and staying in shape, it is very concerning that one of South Australia’s most read news publications prints poorly researched and misleading guidelines – potentially damaging our health rather than improving it.

The newly formed Health Food Partnership has announced their intention of reducing the total amount of sugar and salt in packaged foods. This, as a means to “cut the nation’s expanding waistlines and reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes”. (Source: Sue Dunlevy, The Advertiser Sun 8th Nov 2015).

To achieve this, the article recommends maximum numbers of treats per day for men, women, teens & children. For example: teens can eat 4 sweet biscuits, drink 2 glasses of cordial and a can of soft drink per day, and men can down a six-pack of beer – all part of a supposedly healthy dietary intake. The assumption is that this can be done 7 days a week, because of the reduced sugar & salt content.

My belief is that the Health Food Partnership is totally missing the point. The foods on this “treat” list are all refined & processed carbohydrates, and should only be consumed occasionally. These foods are all low in fibre, thus digest and absorb more quickly, and provide an immediate energy boost which does not last long. This leaves the person feeling flat and fatigued after the energy boost wears off, which can be 1 hour or so later. Even with less overall salt and sugar this will still occur because of the nature of refined carbohydrates.

It is no wonder people are confused about what constitutes a healthy dietary intake of foods when articles like this are printed in the media and supported by health groups such as the Heart Foundation and Public Health Association.