Monday, January 21, 2008

Heart and Stroke Bashes Health Check on their own.

But because they apparently live in bizarro-world, they probably don't even realize they have.

On the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check website there's a sidebar linked to a PDF entitled, "A food label can tell you alot!".

If you click it you'll get a PDF explaining how to read a food label.

UPDATE July 24th, 2009: Health Check recently revamped their website and they've removed the PDF in question. Now the only guidance they provide is to choose items "lower" in %DV.

I've got nothing to criticize from their directions and would like to pull one of their directives out for my readers,

"Look for a lower (10% or less) % Daily Value for fat, saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and sodium."
Pretty good advice.

So good in fact, they've repeated it and published it in their October 2007 Healthwise newsletter where one of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Registered Dietitians Alyssa Rolnick wrote a piece entitled, "Judge a food by its label". She provides a four step program to employ when reading food labels. Here's step 3,
"Step 3 Get less of these nutrients: Look for a lower % Daily Value (10% or less) for nutrients such as fat, saturated and trans fat and sodium."
UPDATE July 23rd, 2009: They removed this too.

So that sounds pretty clear. If an item contains more than 10% the daily value of sodium, the Heart and Stroke Foundation thinks you should avoid it, right?

Apparently not.

I created some tables to illustrate what I mean.

The tables were created by taking the Health Check criteria and plotting the allowable limits per item on sodium vs. what that would mean in percent daily value looking at both the current 2300mg recommendation and the 1500mg recommendation (coming from the National Sodium Policy Statement that the Heart and Stroke Foundation signed).

Let's have a peek:

Grocery Store Food Item Health Check %DV %DV

Allowable Sodium Sodium

Sodium 2300mg 1500mg
ALL GRAIN PRODUCTS 480 mg 21% 32%
Canned Vegetables 480 mg 21% 32%
Frozen Vegetables 480 mg 21% 32%
ALL MILK PRODUCTS 480 mg 21% 32%
ALL MEAT PRODUCTS 480 mg 21% 32%
Store Pizza 480 mg 21% 32%
Veggie or Meat Pies 480 mg 21% 32%
Main Entrée Sauce 480 mg 21% 32%
Potato Salad 480 mg 21% 32%
Other Salad 480 mg 21% 32%
Tomato Juice 650 mg 28% 43%
Vegetable Juice 650 mg 28% 43%
Soups 650 mg 28% 43%
Store Dinner Entrees 720 mg 31% 48%
Store Mixed Dishes 720 mg
31% 48%

Yes, you're reading the table correctly. Not one item, not a single one, has criteria that would limit sodium to less than 10% of your total daily value - thereby allowing the food industry to happily market foods that can contain between 21% and 48% of your total daily recommended sodium intake as healthy, nutritious and approved by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

But wait, it gets worse.

What about restaurants?

Restaurant Food Item Health Check %DV %DV

Allowable Sodium Sodium

Sodium 2300mg 1500mg
Side Salad 480 mg 21% 32%
Appetizer 480 mg 21% 32%
Soups 650 mg 28% 43%
"Small" Entrée 960 mg 42% 64%
Pizza 960 mg 42% 64%
Large Entrée 1,300 mg 57% 87%

Again here, not one single item is limited by the Health Check criteria so as to provide no more than 10% of the daily value of sodium and now restaurants can market foods that can contain between 21% and 87% of your total daily recommended sodium intake as healthy, nutritious and approved by the Heart and Stroke Foundation - that's 87% of the National Sodium Policy Statement's daily sodium recommendation in a single Health Check'ed food item.

If any of the readers out there have Alyssa Rolnick's email, I'd love to send her a copy of these tables and ask her for her thoughts. Clearly either her recommendation to avoid foods containing greater than 10% of total daily sodium values was wrong, or she must agree that the Health Check sodium criteria are woefully deficient. Either way, I'd love to hear her explanation.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a similar post, this time looking at fat.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi! I used the two-face picture in one of my hubs, Is Psychology Value-Free?

    ReplyDelete