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KTH Flashback: Harder Than Doing Your Taxes? Hardly!

Posted May 17 2013 10:29am

Originally posted May 30, 2012

There are some stunning statistics in the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s latest Food & Health Survey , released last week. Here’s one mind-blower:

Nine out of ten Americans describe their health as good or better, a significant increase from previous years. The majority (60%) report that their health is either excellent or very good, and only nine percent report that they are in fair or poor health.

90%!

Must be a very peculiar definition of health. More than 50% of Americans have at least one chronic condition and each month, nearly 50% take at least one prescription drug . (Just over 20% – 1/5 of the population – take three or more!)

Less surprising is the finding that 52% of Americans find it easier to do their taxes than to know how to eat healthfully. Over 1/3 of consumers (76%) “feel that changes in nutritional guidance make it hard to know what to believe.”

Probably, this has a lot to do with something we touched on here last week: hype and spin, often focused on isolated ingredients. Research gets reduced to announcements of new “superfoods” or things to avoid. Little context is given for understanding the findings, so new studies can seem to contradict older ones. One week, you hear coffee is good for you; the next week, not so much. Which is it? Does it matter? Why should it? There’s a new superfood to tell you about. Eating lots of it will change your life!

Then there’s all the hoop-de-doo around “functional foods” and the health haloes cast by faux food marketers. Did you know 7-11 now has lo-cal Slurpee ? Ah! A “healthier” choice! Splenda, artificial flavoring and ice are just what a body needs, right?

Here’s the thing: “Nutritional guidance” really doesn’t change all that much.

Sure, there have been some shifts – the USDA’s introduction of MyPlate, for instance – and new interest in things like organics, sustainability and eating local; new concern with food safety and GMOs. But when you get right down to it, healthful eating is actually pretty simple:

h/t Dr. Dawn Ewing


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