Those old enough to remember the 1970’s may remember the P 76 motor car. It was supposed to be the best car ever built. The manufacturers told the public it was based on best research and information.
In the real world the car bombed. People found it to be an awful car and sales were miniscule. It was a major contributor to the demise of then government owned British Leyland.
In a different world the manufactures might have tried to force everyone to buy a P 76 telling the public that they were wrong and that the manufacturers were right. This does not happen in car manufacturing but can apply in health.
The health star rating system has been about as successful as the P 76 motor car – an abject failure. It’s predecessor the tick was just as abysmal. This week Public Health Collaboration Australia, of which I am a board member, called for the abolition of the health star system.
A cursory glance at some of the failings include giving Milo Cereal 4.5 stars and giving Up and Go (which has roughly as much sugar as iced chocolate) a higher rating than milk. The amount of sugar in 375ml Up and go is 0.3 teaspoons less than that in 350 ml of Iced Chocolate! Meanwhile a tin of sardines in spring water gets 3.5 stars.
The fundamental problem with the rating system is that stars are awarded based on the food pyramid. In turn this is based on low fat dietary guidelines introduced into western nations in the 1980’s with no scientific basis.
It may be co-incidence but only post this change in dietary advice have we seen a significant increase in rates of overweight and obesity.
The system rewards grains and penalises virtually every other food group. The well-respected Cochrane Collaboration has found no benefit to health by increasing the amount of grains in the diet.
Its supporters attack anyone who dares question the orthodoxy. Richard Williams wrote on Inside Sources “ Investigative reporter Nina Teicholz documents in her book “The Big Fat Surprise” how scientific “consensus” on diets has been achieved by strong personalities who excluded skeptics from funding sources and publishing outlets, or accused them of being “industry funded spokespersons.” She also documents how the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture went along with this controversial consensus”.
The above describes the USA but equally applies n Australia and other countries.
Like the P 76 motor car, the health star system is ill suited to purpose. Rather than force everybody to buy one, the P 76 was scrapped. Yet big public health wants to double down and make the system mandatory. Everyone must buy a P 76!
They bleat about the rise in obesity that their guidelines created. Yet somehow everyone is to blame. And never allow the individual to male their own decisions or be responsible for same.
As Katrina Kelly wrote in The Australian “It seems our waistlines and our personal struggles with them are, like so many other things, being collectivised by people who live on the taxpayer dollar. If we follow their narrative then I am not responsible for my own weight, and you are not responsible for yours, but somehow, I am responsible for your weight and you are for mine. OK, whatever, but the upshot is, someone else should pay more tax”.
And of course, big public health relies on taxpayer money as it has nothing of value that anyone would voluntarily buy!
It is time to abandon a system of ticks, stars, and elephant stamps for processed foods. The advice to the public should be a simple one – eat real food. The type of food which has minimal, or no processing. The type of food our grandparents ate.
There is no need for a list of components on a steak, egg or carrot.
The “health washing” of processed foods has been a disaster for society. Rather than double down, we must end it.
Dr Joe Kosterich is a Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma and sits on the board of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.