By Emma Teitel - Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 0 Comments
Could a junk food tax fight back the bulge?
Every once in a while an issue hits the headlines that isn’t an issue at all, but a combination of a someone’s pet peeve and a slow news month: the rising tide of misandry (the war on men), reverse discrimination (the war on whites), draconian political correctness (the war on everything). And now, the ultimate non-issue issue: the war on fast food—or the “WAR ON FOOD FREEDOM” as Sun TV likes to call it. Even though the Canadian Medical Association Journal says “obesity is expected to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable mortality” in Canada, and roughly one-quarter of Americans eat fast food every day, our right to gluttony is apparently on the line. Big Brother is watching what you eat. In September, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the “Big Gulp” ban, which outlawed the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. everywhere except supermarkets and grocery stores (the ban is currently being contested in court by both the American Beverage Association and National Restaurant Association). Meanwhile in Ontario, student leaders are boycotting the fast food joints neighbouring their high schools; it appears the province’s year-old, health-food-only-cafeteria policy has teenagers running for the nearest McDonald’s. Students involved in the “Stick it to Fast Food” campaign are urging students to bring their own lunches through November, in the hope that their cafeterias will one day adopt lunchtime fare that is both nutritious and tasty. Continue…
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM - 20 Comments
We’re fatter than ever and efforts to reduce our ever-expanding waistlines are failing, according to a new report by the Community Foundations of Canada.
Our padded figures have left governments scrambling to address the chronic condition. Carrying extra weight increases the risk of a range of health conditions (from Type 2 diabetes to high total cholesterol and several cancers), meaning health-care costs balloon with our waistlines. (The Community Foundations of Canada put the price tag on health spending related to obesity at between $4.6 and $7.1 billion each year.) Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
A school board in San Antonio will soon be monitoring students’ lunch choices
Kids accustomed to wolfing down nothing but chicken nuggets and fistfuls of fries might not feel as comfortable doing so at several elementary schools in San Antonio, Texas. In what some say is a bizarre mix of Orwellian intrusiveness and health-conscious fanaticism, the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) is poised to become the first to install high-tech camera systems that will monitor and identify all the food students eat in five of its school cafeterias.
Roberto Trevino of the San Antonio Social and Health Research Center received a US$2-million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to execute the idea. The hope is that it will help accurately measure what children are eating and eventually affect their food choices. “We know the present research science is not accurate,” says Trevino. “Most of it depends on self-reporting, on surveys, on pencil and paper. We’ve been funded to develop a new instrument to measure human nutrition.”
This is important, he says, because accurate accounts of nutritional intake are vital in the fight against childhood obesity. According to the Texas Children’s Hospital, more than 40 per cent of children in Texas are obese or overweight. “In order for us to attack that problem we need to understand it, and in order to understand it we need better measuring tools.”
By Erica Alini - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 9:56 AM - 0 Comments
Ballooning food prices are throwing much of the developing world into disarray, but in…
Ballooning food prices are throwing much of the developing world into disarray, but in rich countries, and particularly in the U.S., consumers have mostly continued to roll through the grocery aisle blissfully immune from the double-digit increases that many credit for sparking riots in the Middle East. In the U.S., the price tag for food at the supermarket inched up only 0.3 per cent in January.
The reason for this, according to a recent CitiGroup report, is—to put it bluntly—that most of what we eat isn’t really food. “For better or worse,” notes the study, “this reflects the very high processing content of food.” In processed foods, in fact, price hikes for basic ingredients can be easily absorbed by slimming production and marketing margins. More evidence of this comes from the calculations of Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint. He has found that finished consumer food products in the U.S. have floated only three per cent above or below the average price for their last 10 years, while raw-food commodities, meanwhile, have swung 14 per cent on average. Cheez Whiz, Pizza Pops and other processed foods may not be healthy, but, it seems, they are at least a helpful ally against food inflation.
By Cathy Gulli - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 12:17 PM - 10 Comments
Manufacturers may gain the power to fortify products with nutrients
If you think that “nutritious chocolate bar” sounds like an oxymoron, you may be surprised to learn of a controversial proposal Health Canada is reviewing that would give the food industry “discretionary” authority to fortify junk food with vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium.
In its latest issue, the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes the debate. On the one hand, critics say that this is a cheap way of making junk food seem healthy. They worry that it will encourage consumption and further aggravate Canada’s rising obesity problem. Supporters, on the other hand, argue that if people are going to eat junk food anyway then it might as well contain nutrients.