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Labels and gimmicks will not stop a stroke

13 January 2014

13 January 2014

Do you think that a McDonald’s Fruitizz drink contributes to your five-a-day? I only ask, because a recent newspaper investigation has shown that food companies are using the famous government-backed health campaign to sell us processed products that may have fairly tenuous links to fruit and vegetables.

The five-a-day campaign started off with good intentions: to lower the risk of strokes, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The premise is simple – eat five portions of fruit and veg, for health and vitality.

But something has gone seriously amiss, if your five-a-day could theoretically comprise a Robinson’s Fruit Shoot, some tinned peach slices, a can of Heinz spaghetti hoops, a Yo Yo roll and a Kiddylicious Strawberry Fruit Wriggle.

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Our lifestyles have become characterised by nutritional pseudo-science. We love nothing more than a badge of honour stuck onto the food we buy: low GI, organic, low-sugar, fat-free, five-a-day. We suck it up, and pay a premium for these supposed health foods.

But lo and behold, a label is not going to stop a stroke. As the newspaper investigation showed, some of these healthy ‘five-a-dayers’ have high sugar contents; the consumption of which is linked to the very diseases they were meant to prevent.

Why do we continue to be surprised by this? At this time of the year, with all the ‘foodo-science’ frothing about, I find it helpful to remind myself of what the terrific food writer Michael Pollan says in his book Food Rules:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. 

This is more or less all you need. And by food, Pollan means whole fresh foods, rather than processed, ‘edible food-like substances’. Worth bearing in mind when you’re next confronted with a McDonald’s Fruitizz.


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Show comments
  • Q46

    Business cashing in on the latest ‘scare’ and ‘doom’ in a long parade, selling snakeoil and salvation to the trembling mindless blobs taken in by it all: surely not?

    Let those taken in by it pay up… fools and their money…

  • Alexsandr

    the food police havenow discovered fruit contains sugar. Therefore fruit is bad.
    What rot.
    You need a balanced diet of meat, dairy, bread, pulses, veg, (preferably some green) and some fruit.
    Best bought as milk, carrots, cabbage, apples and bananas and butchers meat, not as some chemically concocted goo labelled as lasagne.
    but people think that is too hard.

  • Eddie

    The 5 a day things was nicked wholesale from the USA and Canada.
    Let’s be honest here – the campaign was aimed at the sort of orca fat chavs who eat a diet so unbalanced that many were never eating any fruit or vegetables.

    Now, it’s easy to mock such people; but let’s remember that half of girls who become vegetarian end up with anorexia and a food obsession – ie they go to far the other way.

    A diet should be healthy and balanced, with meat, protein, and sources of iron, vitamins and fibre. No food is actually ‘unhealthy’ – it all keeps you alive! It is the quantity that counts and the whole diet over a moth or year.

    Our central problem in the UK is our snacking culture, and also a culture where women don’t know how to cook (most these days don’t know how to cook an egg or peel a potato). This is apparently a feminist triumph, but Compare that to France or Italy.

    • mamapjs

      Eddie, “Our central problem in the UK is our snacking culture, and also a culture where women don’t know how to cook…”

      THANK YOU! We have the same problem in the US– too much snacking and too much prepared foods. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen way overweight women pushing cartloads of prepared foods and paying for them with food stamps, when they could have gotten two cartloads of whole foods with the same stamps. I think a great deal of our weight AND economic problems would be wiped away if, instead of given food stamps, these women were given cooking classes. I honestly don’t believe they would know what to do with a whole chicken or a flank roast or a bag of raw veggies.

  • Roy

    It has to be said; the spurning of other than what is organically grown is one of the most dubious and unproven pieces of propaganda put over to the general public ever.
    Some would say: ‘what about global warming’ … be that as it may!

  • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

    Robinson’s Fruit Shoot, some tinned peach slices, a can of Heinz spaghetti hoops, a Yo Yo roll and a Kiddylicious Strawberry Fruit Wriggle.

    But the 5 was really as a minimum so you could eat two of all the above to be super healthy! (phew!). Then there’s ketchup on chips (that counts as two more)…

  • CharlietheChump

    The sooner they start drinking decent claret the better

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