There might be a new big brother in town that is set up to monitor food industry influence of nutrition research, conflicts of interest, and bias. Introducing Feed the Truth with advocates Marion Nestle (Food Politics), Michael Jacobson (CSPI), and Debra Eschmeyer (White House) on the board of directors.
I wanted to share a brief breakdown from my interviews and a few of my favorite quotes.
They told me:
Healthy people have favorite foods that aren’t vegetables. The people I interviewed enjoy bread, chocolate, alcohol, cookies, sugary breakfast cereals, and ice-cream.
Given the hypothetical opportunity to cook or dine with anyone in the world, most people would choose their family.
Many of the people I interviewed think that local crops should be subsidized instead of the current crops that are subsidized like corn. Others think that levies or taxes on sugar added foods or beverages could potentially be structured to reduce the cost of fruits and vegetables.
Almost everyone I spoke to mentioned that education, improving access to food or modifying the present agricultural system were likely routes to improving public health.
On school nutrition- I’m not sure teachers are being taught to teach these things so It’s hard to teach something you don’t know how to teach. It’s similar to cooking. How do we expect families to suddenly start cooking when they were brought up not cooking. If teachers aren’t given the tools they need to teach they’re not necessarily going to develop them on their own.
There is a role for food in comfort and celebration but not as a reward for children.
Celebrating the 100th day of school with a junk food party is not normal. Reading a book for twizzlers is not necessary.
We live on a continent where diet and weight related diseases
are really problematic both to individuals and countries. There are so many barriers to healthy eating related to the environment we live in that there are too many to list. He calls sodium a dietary red herring, an excellent marker for hyper-processed foods.
Health starts at healthy living.
Part of the fabric of humanity is food.
Parenting to us is living the life we want our kids to live.
If you could tell the general public one message about food, nutrition or health what would you say?
I think the most significant thing I’d like people to know is that your health is in your hands to control. Each person needs to have an active level of participation in your own healthcare and your quality of life.
That ranges from the choices you make with consumption of food, types of food you eat, the level of exercise you participate in as well as your involvement and knowledge of your own body and health care treatment.
This means you need to be an active participant in collaboration with your healthcare team which could be your doctor, pharmacist, nurse, dietitian etc. You need to participate, for example, a person who has diabetes may have to participate more but everyone needs to participate on a level.
I’ve spoken to people in different industries working in different countries. The theme is prevalent.
The theme is action.
We need to take action and to help our population lead a healthier lifestyle. Whatever we’re doing right now isn’t enough. One example is that obesity rates are trending upward, in Canada one in ten children have clinical obesity. Obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease arthritis and cancer.
These things don’t impact one person at a time, they impact many lives, families and whole communities.
Megan the cookie loving dietitian took some time out of her busy day to share her opinions on food security and food wastage with me.
She wants you to know that if you don’t have semi-sweet chocolate chips you should probably buy some before attempting to bake cookies with 85% dark chocolate or you might end up with a very bitter cookie.
Healthy eating for all, nutrition, physical activity this administrative dietitian explains it all.
His nutrition pet peeve is that there is a misconception that there is a scientific debate about sodium. There is a consensus of health organizations from around the world about sodium, there is no debate. Healthy food creates healthy employees who are more productive.
He mentioned the Minister of Agriculture helping to develop food policies to promote healthy living and he states that much of the misinformation spread about nutrition is by the food industry pushing out contradictory information to confuse people.
What if you could get a single message out to the general public about food or health- What would it be?
I would say that Canadians should understand that currently to date the government has been responding to the needs of the food industry, not to the public’s interest in obtaining healthy foods and that needs to change.
I interviewed Ontario based Dietitian Mark to talk about what he thinks the barriers to healthy eating are. We had a lot we agreed on and we want to spend some time in the kitchen cooking with Gordon Ramsay.
Mark advocates for balance in the diet and thinks we should have a greater focus on teaching children more about nutrition in schools.
He also loves Montreal smoked meat topped poutine, now that’s a Dietitian you can trust!
Once a week I’ve been trying to do a unique interview style to keep my month long project exciting for myself and my readers.
Mark talks to me about why the public is so confused about nutrition and what he thinks would make our population healthier. Kids cooking in school!
I asked Ali for an interview because I knew that she had recently transitioned from one school to another, giving her a broad perspective of what kids are facing when it comes to healthy eating. She’s worked with recently immigrated children, which I think gives her an insight that we might not all have.
She hit a home run with these answers.
What barriers to healthy eating do you see children in schools face?
Some schools have access to food banks and free healthy meals but there are many that don’t have the access. There were students at a school I worked at recently who weren’t fed breakfast or given snacks for recess time. Then they would go home to eat [and have] very little at lunch which would affect their behavior and performance in school.
This school had a breakfast program but many parents were too proud to send the children to accept the food.
School nutrition programs are a crucial part of providing Canadian youth with adequate food. Presently, Canada is the only G8 country without a national school nutrition program.
In your opinion what’s one of the biggest barriers we’re facing as a population to healthy eating?
That varies quite a bit in South Africa. There are poorer communities that have shops which provide accessible foods but it’s mostly highly processed foods and sugar added foods. Some of the cultural foods in those areas are deep fried as well. Unfortunately, due to the history of South Africa, many of the people living in these communities aren’t well educated they don’t understand the link between nutrition and health or have the necessary access to healthy inexpensive foods.
They may consume excesses of unhealthy foods because they’re cheaper and we end up seeing the obesity of poverty and the poverty cycle continues. We see malnutrition as well but in Cape Town and surrounding areas we see a lot more obesity-related malnutrition than starvation.
In the wealthier communities, we see more physical activity and exercise culture.
In these areas healthy eating is almost a trend, however, I do still see obesity in wealthy people. South Africa really is a mixed bag..
We talked about pesticides, the food babe, GMOs and the over complication of the North American Diet.
Buzzfeed recently wrote an article that was like 57 ways to simplify your life. It’s such clickbait but people like that, they want to simplify. That is our problem, we’re trying to add more things to make our diets healthier but the over complication makes it worse because it’s too difficult to follow.
Vanessa and I spoke about the accessibility of unhealthy foods and the perceived higher cost of unhealthy foods. The marketing of foods can influence what we purchase, Registered Dietitians in retail settings are there to help people choose the healthy foods.
Vanessa told me about trying to keep food and nutrition simple rather than overcomplicating it.
Vanessa gives me her educated opinion on what nutrition and healthy eating means to her as a Registered Dietitian in a retail setting.