Week In Review

It’s been a busy week on the food front: The anti-biotech crowd successfully stymied further progress in European agriculture technology. Nutrition nanny Kelly Brownell declared that he’s not ready to give up on the wildly unpopular “obesity tax.” The Village Voice called animal rights activists out on a fatty liver conspiracy claim. And we put a new study about dietary history in perspective by flipping through the 1953 edition of a classic cookbook. But that’s not all that happened this week in food fights.  
On the obesity front, Mel Tuttle sounded off in North Carolina’s News and Observer after a nurse called attention to her daughter’s body mass index (BMI):

Excuse me? Did you really just say that my 4-year-old daughter is fat?…
Perhaps instead of focusing so much on the obesity rate we should focus our attention on teaching all kids how to be healthy by making good food choices, exercising regularly, and most importantly, loving themselves for who they are.
Using BMI to tell me my daughter is overweight is ludicrous to me.

Ludicrous to us, too. The BMI — a simplistic measure of height and weight that many use to classify people’s health — ignores muscle mass. Meaning Tuttle’s children could be as fit as Brad Pitt or as athletic as LeBron James and still be considered overweight or obese.
Across the pond, British officials sought to escort people around supermarkets in order to point out what they should’t be eating. But the health bosses ran into a small problem: No one showed up.
Susie Squire, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money and a prime example of government nannying.

Judging from the level of public interest, there is neither demand nor need for this expensive gimmick and some serious questions need to be asked about the spending priorities of this PCT.
At a time when taxpayers can’t get doctor’s appointments and the right cancer drugs, to fritter away precious funds on such a patronising and pointless initiative is a disgrace.
Meanwhile, Professor Michael Crawford, the Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition in London, spoke in Dublin on the importance of eating seafood for good health. Crawford joined a growing list of scientific experts who have stressed the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium for a healthy brain. The Irish Times reported:

"The brain is made up of essential fats you can’t make, so you have got to get them in your food," says Professor Crawford…
He advised pregnant women to eat “anything from the sea and rivers” to boost their omega-3 intake, and recommended eating foods rich in the fatty acids rather than taking supplements. “Fish and seafood is not just fish oil, it contains other nutrients, particularly trace elements like manganese and selenium that are so important for brain development.”

In the weeks to come, we can expect that dietary activists will continue to push for soda taxes, foie gras bans, and other misguided measures in order to advance their food agendas. When they do, let’s hope that scientists like Crawford–and citizens like Tuttle and Squire–will keep pushing back.

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