News came in the past week that the front-of-pack nutrition guidance program offered by Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation, presented as a seal of approval in the form of a check mark, was being decommissioned. With all due respect to my friends at the Foundation, and the good intentions that brought the system into existence -- good riddance to it.
In a rare demonstration that there is intelligent life down here, we have recognized that if this is what millions of years of evolutionary biology came up with, we were unlikely to do better. From whence, the answer to the sleepaway camp dilemma: Put your initials in your underwear! If you identify your own, you don't have to recognize everyone else's.
In the aftermath of his commentary about butter in the New York Times, Mark Bittman and I -- along with several others, including Dr. Dariush Mozzafarian from Harvard, one of the authors of the study that set this all in motion -- were invited to discuss the health effects of butter on the NPR program, "On Point," this morning.
No, it is not suddenly good to eat more saturated fat -- and the new study grabbing headlines showed no such thing. The study, a meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine, shows the following two things in particular: (1) you cannot get a good answer to a bad question; and (2) there is more than one way to eat badly.
Improving food labels, as planned by the USFDA and much in the news over the past week or so, is a welcome thing. But I do think we have cause to wonder if all the fanfare and media hype are really warranted. When all is said and done, what improvements are in the works, and how much will they really matter?
Fortified junk food is still junk food. It isn't only what a food doesn't contain (i.e., those nutrients) that makes it dubious. It's what it does contain. The addition of vitamins and minerals does nothing to exonerate junk foods of their standard provisions of added sugars, added salt, artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, inflammatory fats, high glycemic starches, and willfully irresistible calories.