Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seriously, WTF is wrong with British Columbia public health authorities?!

Holy mother *#$&*#!

Thanks to CarrotLines' Wahiba Chair for forwarding me this insanity.

It's called, "The Brand Name Food List" and right along the lines of yesterday's post that encourages eating out because heavens forbid we encourage people to cook, this one addresses whether or not you need to actually put together a healthy lunch for your 6 year old or if instead you should simply throw in some boxes or give them money for junk,

"If you are a parent busily trying to pack a lunch for your child before they head out to school you are probably looking for foods that are quick to assemble, healthy, food safe and most importantly something they will eat. Ready-to-eat packaged foods are hard to beat in terms of convenience—but how do you know if they are healthy?"
Um, here's a simple rule. If they came in a box you could have done better.

But it gets worse, much worse.

Once you sign up for the website, you then gain access to a database scored on the basis of the BC school food policy which rates food as, "Choose Most", "Choose Sometimes", and "Choose Least".

Wondering about how useful and rigorous BC's School Food Policy was,
I decided to take a run through the website. Want to see a lunch the website suggested I could "Choose Most" for my 7 year old daughter?
Snack 1:

Elevate Me! All Fruit Original Energy Bars (240 calories and 7.25 teaspoons of sugar - virtually the same as a bag of M&Ms)


Natrel 1% Chocolate Milk (210 calories and 36grams of sugar - double the calories and nearly 20% more sugar drop per drop than Coca Cola)

Pizza Hut "School Lunch Pizza", Cheese only

McCain's Straight Cut French Fries, 85g (19 fries, baked serving)

Breyer's Creamsickle (assigned for some reason to the "Milk Food" category)

Snack 2:

President's Choice Oatmeal Double Chocolate Soft Cookie (assigned for some reason to the "Whole Grain" category)

(And if she's averse to pizza I can "Choose Most" to send her with a Butterball Hot Dog on a Wonder Plus bun!)
Nutritionally for her snack, lunch, and snack?

1,290 calories, 13 teaspoons of sugar, 825mg of sodium.

And of course she's still going to need to have breakfast and dinner.

To be blunt, to call this website and plan just a little bit stupid would be like calling water just a little bit wet.

Putting a healthy lunch together doesn't include Pizza Hut, Superfries and Creamsickles. Those are most assuredly "Choose Least" items.

How is it possible that the public health folks putting this together didn't see it as problematic that double chocolate cookies, french fries, hot dogs, creamsickles and fast food pizzas made the "Choose Most" list? How did this not set off alarm bells? Bells that would alert the folks putting this together that steering parents to choose these foods rather than take a few minutes every day to actually pack a healthy lunch is a bad plan, and moreover bells that call to question the incredibly awful school food policy that green lit these foods in the first place?

If this is what passes for public health, for government sponsored nutritional guidance, for what their schools are going to teach children and parents are healthy choices, literally instructing them to "Choose them Most", to be blunt again, our poor children are just, plain, screwed.

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  1. This makes me so sad on so many levels. Yesterday's post left me disgusted at the system but this kind of (definitely) just leaves my jaw hanging. Definitely a sad state of affairs, to be sure. Thank you for sharing

  2. Roman Korol8:27 am

    Further to your example of your 7-yr-old daughter's hypothetical schoolday lunchbox prepared in line with the BC Dept of Education policy, you point out that their appalling suggestion of Natrel 1% chocolate milk for lunchtime exceeds the calorie and sugar content of an equivalent volume of Coca Cola.

    Neuro-endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig of UCSF shows, in his online video Sugar: the Bitter Truth, that a can of Coke, in terms of sucrose and calories and their effect on the liver, is equivalent to a can of Schlitz (or any other) beer. See 1:20:13 at Applying that analysis to your present comments, one may reasonably conclude that including a can of Schlitz or Bud (or whatever beer) in your kid's lunchbox would be no worse than giving her that chocolate milk.

    Way to go, BC schools!

  3. And if that is what kids have for lunch on a regular basis, obesity will soon follow.

  4. J Slater10:58 am

    Beyond stupid. I just wrote an article for the “Dig In!” campaign in Manitoba on “unbranding” school lunches. I know, I’m a food luddite. The other problem with the Brand Name Food List is that it is too dam difficult to use – I gave up after 5 minutes. What parents are going to persist with this? Though maybe that’s a good thing… if it takes them to the crap you found.

  5. Anonymous1:12 pm

    That lunch and snacks list made me literally feel a bit sick. I raised kids, and I sent snacks and lunches. Sometimes including A prepackaged item is fine, but where do they get the idea that a banana is harder to put in kiddo's lunch than superfries? Fruit comes prepackaged (oranges, apples, bananas)and hey, it's cheap too. Is it so hard to put a serving of nuts into a baggie? Surely making a sandwich for your child is less work than tracking down all those Choose Often alternatives. Plain milk is just as easy to put in the meal as chocolate is-- their rationale for packing manufactured food as faster and easier is indefensible.

  6. This is even better than the bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread with chocolate milk that we ate 40 years ago at school. But WAIT! Aren't we supposed to be getting smarter about food????? Oh. Maybe not. Loved this post.

  7. I went to a physician the other day for an ankle problem. He asked me about my eating habits, then looked at me suspiciously and said "so you must be into those natural foods". I wanted to ask what un-natural foods he thought I should be eating, but you just gave me a nice list. This is typical of American school food, and as a former teacher I can say with confidence that most of our "ADHD" would vanish if we fed kids real food and let them outside a few times a day. That list will keep their blood sugar swinging and their minds off their work. Sad.

  8. Bonnie10:54 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I live in BC & my children are not school age yet but I certainly plan on spending more time thinking about what goes into their lunches than reading this online list. As an RN, I'm so horrified that I'm at a loss for words right now...

  9. Ilovemyjob,but...6:44 am

    I am an elementary teacher. Year after year, horrified at what my students are bringing in their lunch boxes from home, I have tried to educate them about what is healthy and what should be an occasional treat. I have been told by parents to mind my own business and "don't tell me what my kid can and cannot eat" more times than I care to count. Many children have nothing but packaged junk, day after day. A small minority have fresh fruit and veggies. This is in a well-educated, upper middle class population. So don't always blame the schools. Some of us are trying, in vain, to change things with parents but are met by a hostile, defensive brick wall.

  10. I started reading this thinking that it was going to be puritanical - that you were going to object to a small bag of chips with a sandwich and carrot sticks or something. But wow. No, you're right. I never would have been allowed to eat like that as a kid. Holy crap. That's pure marketing.