please empty your brain below

Nobody awake yet? All still scoffing pies?

I reckon it wont be long before we get fag-style warnings on food - this pie will make you FAT and UGLY. These sweets will make your TEETH DROP OUT and then you will be a sad lonely old person surrounded by cats. if you eat this ready meal your breath will SMELL and your friends will LEAVE YOU.

In the Tesco version "one pie contains ... of your guideline daily amount." Who are they referring to? A child? A female athlete? Granddad? Someone who sits in front of their computer all day? I happen to think that's a bit broad brush.

Why can't they combine the two (add the colours to the Tesco one or \\%s to the Sainbury's one)?

imo this is a smokescreen, the concern salt sugar etc - there are still food manufacturers out there who are being deliberatley obstructive or misleading about declaring the amount (if any) of trans-fats - the food industry have for a very long time been keeping this one tucked away in the background for as long as possible lest their profit margings be very drastically affected

if hydrogenated fat were invented today it is highly questionable whether it would be passed as fit for consumption - given the amount of research into this product it is arguable that it poses a significant health risk - my personal opinion on food is that hydrogenated fats and processing/overrefinement and chemical additives are the priority issues

All the same, this is making me feel very hungry as I skipped breakfast.

Seriously though, shouldn't the issue of good nutrition be taught in schools?

As ever, the government are making things much more complicated and confusing than is needed. Probably to keep a thousand less-than-civil servants and quango-bods in jobs... Or, the corporates who feed them via the back door (via unseen perks and in tax revenue) in profit.

If they simply stated calories clearly on a pack, and educated people about sensible daily calorie intake levels, the rest would follow.

Because - calories live largely in fat and processed carbohydrate-rich food, so, even the dimmest person will understand that they will need to eat other things than pie if they are to keep within a reasonable calorie intake/weight.

Other things, such as salt intake and the different sorts of fat would bolt-on nicely to my model, because once people beging to get a feel for the calories in different foodstuffs, their awareness of healthy eating naturally increases and they consume food messages without realising.

I'm with Dave. The challenge is to design something that is both simple to understand on a superficial scale and provide some useful instant guidelines and also provide further information for those who can be bothered to interprete the additional details.

Bit like how I believe an underground map should be. Oh dear. Far too difficult then.

If we're going to standardise food lables, why don't we standardise dress sizes too?

I was amazed recently to read that clothing sizes in this country are not and never have been standardised. See:

Personally if I walk down the typical highstreet I can vary 3 dress sizes from shop to shop (now THAT'S a workout!). If women knew that they we actually a size 20 when realistically they'd been kidding themselves that they were a size 12 it'll help motivate them to shed a pound or two.

Plus it would make online clothes shopping sooo much easier....

You've picked a hot topic here DG, I can see you're going to be inundated!

"Or, the corporates who feed them via the back door" says Blue Witch.

Indeed, by giving them jobs at the end of their tenure.

How about adding the other side of the in-out equation? Why not say "Contents of this packet will make you fatter unless you go for a five-mile run/three weeks' ironing/two hours of the most energetic sex you've ever had"? Or whatever.

Autolycus - which is exactly where calorific value comes in. Teach people how many calories are consumed by each type of activity, and bingo, you've cracked the problem.

And I suppose I am alone and out of sync with everyone else in wishing we would sort out our measuring system and measure energy in joules or kilojoules instead of calories.

I see two real issues:

1) The general populations predisposition to prey on supermarkets' aisles; where prevalence of preprepared, processed pap (ready meals and the like) means an addiction to salt, sugar and sat fat.

2) The lack of credible competition to the above; and the lack of decent fresh produce in them. Which means that people go for the pap; not only because it's easy, but also because the fresh stuff (which should be the nicest) is rubbish in supermarkets. Really diabolically bad.

Don't give me that about not being able to use and alternative. It's rubbish.

If you really want to be confused try looking at the labels in the States. The print tends towards the tiny, instead of sugar we have total carbs, instead of salt we have sodium and the serving sizes don't usually correspond to what a normal person eats. For instance there are 2 servings in a regular sized can of soda. Most people who actually look at the information are going to assume that the calories listed are for the whole item.

Packet of Worcester Sauce flavoured crisps anyone?

'Research currently being undertaken' - you mean they are planning on changing policy *before* the results are in?

Oh dear.

Here is an example, the 5g salt per day figure? Made up wholesale based on a really ropy study that has no real basis in biological fact.

It measured blood pressure in people with high sodium levels and noticed it was higher - problem is that 75\\% or so of the people taking part had kidney failure as well which causes high blood pressure.

Oh well, since when has government ever made policy on scientific research?

I have to agree with Dave as well. Tesco's labelling says "of your daily amount", but you could be a hermit who spends his whole life in a cave somewhere deep in the Scottish Highlands as far as they're concerned. However, at least with Tesco's system, you know exactly how much you should be eating.

Perhaps if the government spent its vast education budgets properly, rather than on fancy new 'academies', it wouldn't have to worry about shoppers not being able to understand percentages. I wonder how some shoppers would react if you told them that just by eating half of that pie, you would have eaten almost all (92\\%) of your daily allowance of saturated fats, and well over half (60\\%) of your fat allowance?

I suppose with the traffic light system, we can be told by the government exactly what we can and can't eat. Nanny state, anyone?

Further to my previous comment, I think some food companies do mix both systems using one of the systems Dave mentioned. The Tesco GDA system is used, but by colouring the boxes red, amber or green according to the percentages shown, they can also use the Sainsbury's traffic light system as well - the best of both worlds.

Perhaps this is the system the government should be pushing forward?

But who eats half a pie???? I think that is the real problem, portion sizes are the way forward - it would be greedy two eat TWO pies but to eat a smaller one ... no problem. And no feeling guilty about leaving some.

I'm more worried that people can't understand percentages than whether or not they eat fatty food.

The UK government yesterday launched a multi-million pound campaign to try to cut levels of obesity across Britain.

Err. "Eat fewer pies, eat more carrots, and get out in the fresh air and go for a brisk walk." Millions of pounds to say all that? My taxes at work.

And just in case anyone says "oh, it's more difficult than that," that is exactly how I lost five stone and kept it off. Didn't even have to stop drinking wine. Ate a bit less, walked a bit more, stopped eating crap.

Well said, rosamundi.

What if I've seen opinions about the nutritional value of fats, especially saturated fats, that are diametrically opposed to the recommendations this newfangled colour-coded thing wants me to believe in? I suppose that at some point in the not-too-distant future I will have to buy my organic butter and lard on the black market, either because of the slooowly progressing (degressing?) economic collapse or because of governmental guidelines shunning these things. "Nutritional terrorism", it my be called, a capital crime: Eating foods that have not seen a real factory in their lifetime.

Tom Reynolds, have you heard anything about the lipid theory on nutritional fats? The web site linked below presents a convincing case (convincing to me, anyway), based on anthropological observation of real-world peoples, but appears like a lone voice in the wilderness. I happen to favor well-reasoned lonely voices in comparison to established "truths", but I'd be interested in another opinion nonetheless. And more exposure to this topic in certain weblogs.

"Employers will also be asked to play more of a role in helping workers be healthy - ministers suggesting holding weight loss competitions as a way of encouraging employees to lose weight."

Anyone comes down MY workplace calling me a fatty will leave with an obese lip.

Err, what about the recent research that indicated that fatties live longer?

I've just read the following in a magazine (a reputable one at that): "Researchers have found that thin people can store a lot of fat on the inside, a body type intriguingly referred to as TOFI - thin outside, fat inside."
There is no escape from the fat police.

I personally find the traffic light system worse than useless. I think it's healthy to eat a few peanuts, even if they rate RED for fat, RED for calories, RED for sat fat, and probably RED for salt too. I need the protein and the fats are not doing me any harm - the human brain is mostly fat after all.

What I want to know is how the amount that I'm eating relates to what I should be eating - I need to see percentages and what is considered a portion size (a quarter of a pie? I might think... but I would normally eat the whole pie which is 180\\% of my daily sat fat... oops... don't buy the pie). Even mathematical failures can understand that 101\\% fat (as listed on a few Tesco products) is more than a bit too much.

If the fat content is simply red and says 20.7g, I don't have a clue if 20.7g is 'borderline naughty' red... or if 20.7g is 'instant heart attack' red.

In any case, the label should display both - it's always easier for people to interpret information if it's shown in more than one way. Colours + percentages = good.

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