Monday, December 10, 2007

More on the Useless Ontario School Trans-Fat Ban

So did you think I was being too harsh on Ontario's Premier Mr. McGuinty with my criticism of his school trans-fat ban?

Turns out, I was being too easy.

Someone pointed me to one of the pieces that the CTV had done on the ban and sent me both the link to the video and some screen captures and asked for my thoughts.

That picture at the top of this blog, those are the foods that Dalton McGuinty tells a bunch of students will,

"Give us energy, help us stay awake in class. Right?"
Well they sure would "Give us energy".

The muffins...they look to me like a commercially baked cranberry (let's assume low-fat) and some kind of a raisin bran version. They also look to me about the size of a small cake. If we use Tim Horton's nutritional information as a yardstick, the raisin muffin likely has in the neighbourhood of 390 calories (the equivalent number of calories as 1 litre of Coca Cola) and 790mg of sodium (2/3rds of your child's daily requirement). The low-fat cranberry one's not a heck of a lot better with 290 calories and 750mg of sodium. They also contain on average 8 teaspoons of added sugar.

The Quaker Oatmeal to Go? 220 calories and 5 teaspoons of sugar. Roughly identical numbers to a bar of Hershey's Milk Chocolate.

The Special K bar? 90 calories, one third of them directly from sugar. Pretty much an identical breakdown to a 100 calorie Kit-Kat bar, and as my friend Julie from It Must Have Been Something I Ate once wrote the Special K bar,
"contains gram for gram more sugar and less fibre than Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies"
I won't knock the apples or the raisins. Both have in the neighborhood of 50 or so calories.

Brilliant choices Dalton!

Some folks in the comments section over at the CTV blog where my blog is often picked up were really quite upset with my criticisms.

One individual wrote,
"Oh please. We've got to start somewhere, don't we? These people who want all or nothing solutions bother me."
and another wrote,
"It is unfortunate that a medical professional would share such a negative and limited view. Healthy adults begin with healthy kids and youth. Schools are an ideal place to support and promote healthy choices."
Would you like to see what your schools promote as lunch time choices?

Remember, this so-called at least do something solution of banning trans-fats will not in fact change menus, it'll just require the use of foods and oils that are trans fat free.

Below are some other screen captures from that very same CTV story showing a school cafeteria working doling out of an enormous mound of onion rings to go with a cheeseburger with it's huge refined flour bun and a giant spinning tower of pizza.

So for those folks who were upset with me, do you honestly think that removing trans-fats from the obscenely unhealthy foods being served to our children in schools is going to make a difference or shouldn't we be removing in fact the obscenely unhealthy foods? Also, in our ever growing epidemic of childhood obesity, do you think that providing our children "snacks" that have the caloric equivalent and nutritional benefits of chocolate bars, cookies and litres of soft drinks is a good idea?

Again, I've got to reiterate. Firstly if Mr. McGuinty truly feels that trans-fats are unhealthy enough to remove from our schools then he should be fighting to remove them from the Province. Regarding the kids whose health he feels is too important to ignore, what percentage of foods do they eat in school versus foods they bring to school or buy off school grounds? Secondly, to discuss the removal of trans-fats as part of a strategy to reduce childhood obesity is at best misguided and at worst the willful manipulation of public sentiment by preying on people's fears and love of their children for personal political gain. While I will often champion small changes in the fight against obesity, this one has no scientific legs and frankly I would have hoped, an insult to the intelligence of the voting public.

Don't shoot the messenger.

[Hat tip to Lorne from our office]