Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Health Check's Highly Processed Hypocrisy


Recently I read a nutrition column by Heart and Stroke Dietitian Alyssa Rolnick about how to help your child consume less salt.

Amazingly, despite the Heart and Stroke Foundation's endorsement of lower levels of salt in children (the National Sodium Policy Statement the Heart and Stroke Foundation signed off on recommends children under the age of 8 consume no more than 1,200mg daily) Alyssa stuck to Health Check's party line of adopting the far less stringent Health Canada recommendations of the nearly double 2,300mg.

But I'm not blogging today about the inanity of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's lack of adherence to sodium level recommendations that they themselves state are too high (I've done that before here) - no, today I'm blogging about these 3 lines from Alyssa's piece,

"Cook fresh foods One of the best ways to control salt intake is to prepare more home cooked meals."

"A lot of the excess sodium that we consume is hidden in processed, convenience and fast foods
."
and finally,
"When shopping, look for food items that have the Health Check™ symbol."
So first off let me say I agree with Alyssa in that we need to cook our own meals more frequently and that highly processed foods are not only often laden with salt, they're often devoid of the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils.

So can you guess which statement I disagree with?

Yup, you guessed it - her call to use Health Check to guide your choices in kid food shopping.

Why do I disagree?

Because Health Check'ed options are generally highly processed foods with far too much salt.

Don't believe me?

Well how about just asking Health Check folks?

You see just a few weeks ago they released a call for proposals to assess the impact of Health Check on the marketplace after 10 years of operation. One of the areas they want input on is one which they've labeled, "unintended consequences".

Any guesses as to the unintended consequence that they offered up as an example of what they're talking about? Here it is:
"Are Health Check products encouraging the purchase of processed foods over fresh foods?"
The answer of course is along the lines of, "Duh", for as Bill Jeffery from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest pointed out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal,
"of the 257 fruit and vegetable products enrolled in the program, 194 are juices, fruit leather and french fries — hardly nutritional superstars — and only 14 are fresh fruits and vegetables."
I'll also be happy to continue to explain why the answer is, "Duh" pictorially:


[Hat tip to loyal blog reader Dana for passing along the call for proposals]

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2 comments:

  1. Yoni, a few years ago I read Morgan Spurlock's "Don't Eat This Book", and he brought to light that some of these healthy-sounding programs are actually sponsored by the processed food companies they endorse. Isn't is exhusting, how on-guard you have to be with any grocery trip? We just stick to the outside aisles, something that you also recommend.

    I really enjoy your blog, it's nice to see others fighting the good fight, with high nutrition and low obesity goals at the forefront. Maybe there's still hope for the next generation. :)

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  2. Anonymous12:11 pm

    Yoni,
    I get your points on the Health Check program. It is unfortunately very confusing and misleading for consumers. This program could have a lot of potential. However, as an optimist, maybe this assessment on the impact of Health Check on the marketplace maybe be the light that the Heart and Stroke Foundation needs to see the error of their ways. Let's cross our fingers!

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