Monday, February 26, 2007

Wake up and smell the Calories!

The willful ignorance of Calories is clearly Health Canada's shtick, but what of our slightly heavier American neighbours, do they also ignore the currency of weight?


The FDA, while separate from the entity that put out their own abysmal Food Guide, has been talking to Americans about Calories for a little while now.

They have a number of resources.

They have an article from 2002 entitled, "Losing Weight: Start by Counting Calories".

They have their report from their 2004 working group on obesity, "Calories Count" which urges work on better food labeling to make Calories more prominent and serving sizes clearer (including enforcement laws for products that declare inaccurate serving sizes), regulation in the weight loss industry, increased point-of-sale nutrition information in restaurants, and the pursuit of gobs of research.

For these and many other documents, head over to their working group's summary page. There they've got quite a bit of good stuff including some suggestions for how to make labels less misleading and more Calorie conscious.

They've even got their own Calorie counting superhero. They called him "Labelman" and he's part of a surprisingly well done web based interactive learning program on how to read a food label with a specific emphasis on Calories.

And it's not just the FDA. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (oy what a name), has a page entitled, "Just enough for you" about food portions where they detail how to keep a Calorie complete food diary.

And while the USDA's food pyramid's recommendations certainly are reflective of the fact that the USDA's job is to support agriculture (read Big Food matters to them just like Health Canada), at least their personalized My Pyramid page includes the essential variables of weight, height and physical activity.

If you want to revisit Health Canada's take on Calories, just head over to this old post. Remember, it's so bad, it qualified for a Funny Friday label.