The Federal Drug Administration has been weighing the merits of using graphic images on “junk food” just as cigarette manufacturers are required to put on every pack.
Interestingly, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “I think tobacco is unique. It is a product that is the number one cause of preventable death.”
But obesity related deaths come in a close second to tobacco related deaths. And American’s overweight issues is now at epic numbers with no sign of slowing on the horizon.
Here’s why I’m against the concept though. There was a lot of definitive research behind the decision made by the Surgeon General of the United States to deem cigarettes a health hazard. And I would doubt anyone, at this point, that chooses to smoke, doesn’t realize they are harmful to their health. But, for their own reasons and addictions, they make a choice to continue.
In a similar way, we have legislation that requires food to have a nutrition label and ingredients list that, when read, gives you a lot of information about what you put into your body. People just need to read and understand the labels and ingredients. No small task though – it can be quite daunting. Especially as more small healthy food manufacturers get purchased by bigger companies and the recipes change.
Yes, it takes more than a label. But, honestly, I don’t think there is enough clear-cut evidence to truly define “healthy”. I don’t think there’s any doubt that trans fats are harmful. I don’t know of any science that says they are safe. Finally, even the USDA has stated the only safe amount of trans fats is zero. But, it’s on the label and the ingredients list. Unfortunately, most everything else is pretty debatable, including refined sugars and refined carbohydrates. The USDA recommends moderation. (Which means what????)
Vegetarians tell me that animal products are destructive to me and the planet. Omnivores quote statistics about the death of the plains from over production of grains. Small farmers decry the use of factory farming to create cheap food quickly with no regard to health or environment. Registered Dieticians limit all saturated fats and still recommend artificial sweeteners. The incongruencies go on and on.
Many people can remember when eggs were good for you, then they were bad, then they were good again. Eggs never changed! The research showed different things, interpretations were different, and how cholesterol is formed and used by the body wasn’t fully understood yet. Labeling them would have been a horrific mistake.
Partly this is a symptom of not respecting bio-individuality. For some people a primarily plant based diet works well, for other’s it’s a slow method to nutrient deficiencies. For some people grain is tolerated and for other’s it is an immediate digestive distress. All of this makes researching specifics very difficult; your test group subjects will sway the outcome based on their bio-chemical makeup.
Most people like the convenience of processed foods. And companies are making a lot of money because people want quick and easy solutions, often regardless of the health effects. So the responsibility remains on the consumer to educate themselves about what is right for their body, identify proper ingredients, and find the time to take back their kitchen from the manufacturers of processed foods. Whole foods don’t need any labels or graphics!