We are currently facing an obesity epidemic of previously unknown proportions. In 2017, the proportion of the adult population in the United States that was classified as obese was 41.9%[i]. In the UK we’re not much better - the Health Survey for England 2021 estimates that 25.9% of adults in England are obese and a further 37.9% are overweight but not obese[ii]. And it’s on the rise.
This crisis is costing us dearly. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death[iii]. So, our governments are doing their utmost to make sure we know what to eat in order to help us control this epidemic, right? Mmmm.
There was an article the Guardian in December last year with the headline “Revealed: group shaping US nutrition receives millions from big food industry”. Here’s a link to the article in full.
It reveals that the government body responsible for advising the American public on what to eat, on what constitutes a healthy diet (it’s called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), receives huge amounts of funding from the likes of Nestlé, PepsiCo, Hershey, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Conagra, the National Dairy Council and the baby formula producer Abbott Nutrition. How can we possibly expect to get unbiased, properly researched nutrition advice if this kind of corruption is going on behind the scenes? Ok, so they may not be telling us that it’s ok to have Coco Pops for breakfast followed by a KitKat for lunch, but the food pyramid on most primary school walls and in doctors' waiting rooms STILL shows the bottom layer chock full of refined and processed carbohydrates – bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, etc. This is not how we’re going to solve the obesity crisis.
You might be thinking, oh, but that’s over in the US, that kind of thing doesn’t happen over
here. Really? There was an article in “The Grocer” journal in 2015 with the headline “SACN experts adopt new conflict of interest rules”. SACN stands for Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition; it’s the UK equivalent of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To quote from the article:
“In February (2015) an investigation commissioned by the British Medical Journal claimed there was an “extensive network” of links between the scientists drawing up nutritional advice on sugar, and brands such as Nestlé, Unilever and Mars. Of the 40 scientists affiliated with SACN between 2001 and 2012, only 13 have had no interests to declare”.
So apparently, Nestlé are funding the advisors advising us what to eat, both over there and over here.
Do your own research, folks. That food pyramid??? Replace the bottom layer with a rainbow-coloured layer of fresh vegetables and a little fruit, followed by healthy, clean sources of proteins and fats in the next layers up. Some good grains in the smaller layer on top of that, and a little bit of chocolate and red wine now and then at the top of the pyramid. But please, don’t get your nutrition advice from Nestlé or the advisors they are paying. They don’t have your best interests at heart; they’re looking after their shareholders.