Tag Archives: bbc

Great Swapathon is a big step forward for the obese

17 Jan

The British are swapping deep fried mars bars

FOR lovely carrot sticks

I’ve read conflicting views of the Department of Health’s recently launched Change for Life Great Swapathon. A mouthful in itself, the idea is that the British government, with the help of the world’s biggest food businesses (Asda, Birds Eye, JJB Sports, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Warburtons and Weight Watchers), The Sun and News of the World, bribe the British general public to drop their deep fried mars bars and pick up an apple instead. We’re offered a book of £50 vouchers to swap bad for good and that’s the problem. The ‘good’ is not necessarily that good especially if it is a branded box of still highly sugared yet ‘baked’ cereal that costs twice as much as the usual without the coupon.

British magazine Marketing Week wrote recently of the ‘Great Swapathon rip off’ and the BBC reports that Professor for Food Policy at City University in London Tim Lang called it a ‘corporate brand protection strategy rather than a public health one.’

At first I agreed with them. You can no doubt pick up a hint of cynicism in my intro and having a marketeer’s DNA I can smell a brand campaign a mile away. At first glance, spending £250m to convince fatties to be healthy seems like a giant waste of my hard earned taxes. I’ve only just convinced my Mum to drink freshly squeezed lemon juice and warm water in the mornings. However, and a big however – something has to be done. Obesity in children as one impact of bad nutrition has increased to 30% from 25% in 1995,  and the statistic is due to grow.

People like me, who care about and know about basic nutrition are the unusual and the extreme. Others have a clue that they should be eating better, but not even heart attacks or cancer scares can make them cut back and change. Will this work for a generally ignorant general public looking for a quick fix?

When I do my sums, the campaign only costs taxpayers a fiver a head and, having worked on a proposed arts council campaign to bring the arts to the general public, I can say that £250m is peanuts and alone would make no headway whatsoever. We need the additional food manufacturer and retailer budgets and distribution channels to reach the masses and then we need their ‘healthier’ range of products to ease them into making life long changes.

The 5-a-day campaign is working - so will The Great British Swapathon

And – most importantly when you look at statistics for the 5-a-day campaign. It is working. 21% of children now eat 5 portions of fruit and vege a day compared to just 10% in 2001.

Charlene from Essex may not swap her daily bacon butty for a carrot stick for a million pounds but she might choose omega plus enhanced granary bread instead of preserved white plastic slabs.

It’s not raw food, and not chlorella smoothies but I think the programme is a brilliant step in the right direction, superb value for money considering the long term benefits to children in terms of fundamental education and awareness and the food companies, for once, are doing something positive too. This is marketing. Marketing works to change behaviours in this case – for good. The critics, including the Children’s Food Campaign, who said, ‘this analysis exposes the Great Swapathon for what it really is – a great marketing opportunity for the companies involved, but of little benefit to consumers’ pockets or health’, should get over it and behind it, unless of course, they have a better idea.

US researchers conclude raw food eaters thin but healthy

16 Dec

a fresh raw fruit and vegetables is best for you

OK – so that conclusion is music to my raw food ears and I’m going to say those four highly irritating words – ‘I told you so’.  I told you a raw food diet was good for you and not just because you’re thinner, have better skin, look younger, have clear bright eyes and lots of energy.  And this BBC story sort of proves I was right.

I say ‘sort of’ because this report is a very frank analysis of the research and a raw food diet overall. It takes into account some of the potential negatives including damage to bone mass and the obvious necessity for a balanced diet.  It recommends including  raw fruit and vegetables into your diet, not following it 100%.  This could mean anything from munching a blueberry muffin to leading a 99% raw fruit and vegetable lifestyle and everything inbetween. I suggest, from my personal experience,  a diet of 70-80% raw.  I think this is not only possible for us punters but also very healthy.  While the study is based on extreme 100% raw foodies and helpfully concludes that they are thin and healthy, the article also provides the biggest clue, to us less fanatical, as to why.  It’s all in the chorophyll, which can be most efficiently found in fresh leafy greens. Hello green smoothies!

On another note, there are a few reasons why I can imagine this story wouldn’t be taken seriously.  Firstly this is a BBC report from 2005 that I’ve only just tracked down. Secondly, the study was ‘found in the Archives of Internal Medicine’ whatever they are.  And then, thirdly, you quickly discover that only 18 people were tested… Mmmmm.  Well.  Can such a small sample count? Probably not.  But who cares. It’s great news and you should read and digest every word!

Extracts from BBC News 29 March, 2005
People who follow a raw food vegetarian diet are light in weight but healthy, according to US researchers.

It has been suggested that eating only plant-derived foods that have not been cooked or processed might make bones thinner and prone to fractures. But a study in Archives of Internal Medicine found although bones were lighter on this diet, turnover rates were normal with no osteoporosis. The lower bone mass is down to raw food eaters being slim, believe the authors.

Dr Stephen Walsh, nutrition spokesperson for the Vegan Society, said it was to be expected that people who ate only raw foods would be slimmer and that this would in turn have an effect on bone mass.

Elaine Bruce, experienced naturopath, homeopath and director of the UK Centre for Living Foods, said calcium was important for building bones, but that inorganic calcium in the form of supplements would not do the job.

“You have to have organic calcium as it occurs in fresh green leafy vegetables. “What we do in our programme is maximise that intake by having it in juice form.”

She said that the chlorophyll found in green plants and vegetables also contained the right amount of magnesium that is essential for the uptake of calcium for healthy bones.

“The chemical composition of chlorophyll and blood is very similar which further facilitates this uptake,” she added.