Junk food ban debate… again.

 

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Food label on a microwave chicken roll. 4. 1 grams of sugar, 13.2 grams total fat, 2.1 grams saturated.

 

According to ‘Herald Sun’, debate on banning junk food in school canteens and sports events has been sparked again. There is a new push for schools, sports clubs and advertisers to ban junk food in a bid to combat the rising number of children and adults who are overweight or obese. Taxes for junk food have also been talked about – again. I’ve got a few thoughts about this.

Firstly, I’m not entirely against banning or limiting junk food advertising at certain times of the day, especially when school – aged children are most likely going to be home. In terms of sport sponsorship and advertising, how it will affect particularly rural or regional football and netball clubs in particular need to be considered. It does make sense that sports events/ training coaches offer healthy food. But like with many issues with advertising, a lack of sponsorship from major companies, including junk food companies (Coca Cola, etc), may bring the sports club to financial ruin. Of course, maybe they can rely on healthier food brands, (Sanitarium, maybe?).
Further taxing junk food may prove problematic in lower socio – economic areas. Instead,  I believe healthy food needs to be more affordable and accessible in these communities. I also strongly believe that food labelling should be more explicit. The unfortunate thing is that, much frozen food that can be put in a microwave has high levels of sugar, a substance that is a major contributor to obesity and other health problems. Yet, due to convenience, many people, which use to include myself, get these foods on a regular basis.It was only when I looked at the ingredients that I was horrified at the amount of sugar in particular that was in it.

 

How many people actually look at the ingredients in the packaging, especially if your in a hurry? Probably not many. I think this maybe where people can get trapped. I know the government has talked about colour – coding food (red for unhealthy for regular consumption, green for good, etc). What happened to that? “Fruit” or “cereal” products have been proven to be just as unhealthy, including Sanitarium’s “Up and Go” – a drink that supposedly can be taken if you don’t have time for breakfast? The catch? Yep, it’s full of sugar. Not really a replacement to (low – sugar) cereal, wholegrain bread, etc. This may sound basic, but I still think it’s deceptive to give people the false impression that certain food isn’t too unhealthy, or worse, food/ drinks that you may think may be valuable, only to be told it’s full of sugar. I guess the only way to go is to buy whole foods, fruits, vegetables, etc.

 

What about fast food? We know about outlets such as McDonalds and KFC are high in salt, fat and sugar. But you should also be careful at places like Subway too.  In 2013, news.com.au reported that a study from University of California discovered teenagers who ate Subway were consuming the same calories and higher amount of salt then those who ate McDonalds. I eat Subway from time to time and haven’t had any problems. I’d advise to stay away from the fatty meats and have plenty of salad. Preferably without cedar cheese apparently (I always have it on mine, though).

 

Healthy eating should be simple and cheap. While “common sense” plays a part, i think supermarkets and fast food outlets have a responsibility as well. Don’t advertise something as “healthy” when in reality, it’s not. Would it hurt companies to put sugar and/ or salt content CLEARLY on the label so people will be more likely to read it? I just think that something can and should be done. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, sure. But retailers can make it a little bit easier. They can at least be  honest about what’s in their products.

What do you think? Should food companies be more transparent about what’s in their food?

 

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