Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cut size of chocolate bars to fight obesity, says British food watchdog

Some people will never learn. Such cuts tend to cause people to buy TWO amounts of the shrunken food item -- with a total INCREASE in the amounts consumed

Chocolate fans, be warned: your sugary snack is set to get smaller. The Food Standards Agency wants manufacturers to reduce the size of chocolate bars by about a fifth to help to cut calorie intake. It proposes that by 2012 standard-sized bars should be no more than 50g. Currently, Mars bars are 58g and twin Bounty bars are 57g.

Manufacturers have also been asked to sell bite-size bars as single items, of 40g or under, instead of in multi-bar bags. The agency hopes to discourage companies from marketing giant-sized bars and will urge manufacturers to promote lower-calorie treats. The aim is to help consumers to reduce the number of calories and the amount of saturated fat that they eat.

By 2050, 60 per cent of Britons will be obese unless the nation’s diet is improved, according to health chiefs, with the cost to the National Health Service estimated to reach more than £8.4 billion. Officials decided to push for smaller bite-size bars rather than developing healthier recipes because European Union rules restrict sugar and fat reductions in chocolate.

Restrictions on the size of carbonated drinks were also put forward yesterday as part of the consultation with the food industry. It is also proposed that, within six years, fizzy drinks should be sold in smaller containers, with 250ml (8.8 fl.oz) suggested as the norm instead of the current standard 330ml for most brands. Added sugar levels to drinks should be reduced by 4 per cent within three years — the idea being that consumers will be weaned off very sweet drinks without noticing the lower sugar content.

Gill Fine, of the agency, said: “We are not telling people what to eat. We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices — to choose foods with reduced saturated fat and sugar — or smaller portion sizes.” Saturated fat should be cut by 10 per cent in cakes, biscuits, and pastry. The agency is hoping for voluntary action by the industry but if companies fail to respond, ministers might force their hand by threatening to legislate.

The Food and Drink Federation expressed disappointment at moves to set what are seen as arbitrary targets for specific nutrients in certain foods, rather than encouraging consumers to follow a balanced diet and lifestyle


Meat and three veg is still Australia's favourite meal

This is the British culinary heritage and I grew up on it many years ago so I don't know whether to be pleased or horrified to hear that it is still common. It was pretty boring food but we all survived and Australian now has one of the world's longest life expectancies

FORGET MasterChef, meat and three veg is still Australia's favourite meal. And fine dining is feeling the pinch in the unstable economic climate, the Herald Sun reports. One in five households served chops or steak with salad or vegetables every night, a Westinghouse survey shows. Next in order were a roast, spaghetti bolognaise, stir fry, and fish, while readymade meals rounded out the top 10.

Westinghouse said the survey showed Australians recognised the importance of home-cooked meals. But Melbourne chef Alan Campion said the popularity of simple meals showed the nation had become "time poor". "There is no doubt people are strapped for time and cooking is an effort," Campion said. "However, a perfectly cooked steak, a beautiful baked potato and some other vegies on the side is really not too bad."

Campion, who has published several cook books and runs cooking boot camps, said the popularity of MasterChef will have a huge effect on what the nation eats in the near future because it had fans of every age. "I overheard three teenage boys enthusiastically talking about the show the other day in a cafe. That's not something I'd seen before," he said. "The show will have a continuing effect and hopefully it will help change what people eat."

A survey by American Express found that 83 per cent of Melbourne and Sydney restaurants have noted reduced customer spending in recent months. Most of the 250 restaurant, cafe and bar owners interviewed said the economic climate was proving a major challenge for their businesses.

Upmarket establishments in Melbourne's inner city suburbs had seen a drop in patrons and frequency of customer visits. But cafes and bars were prospering, with almost a third reporting higher profits.


Pay donors to end the shortage of IVF eggs, says British watchdog

Official authoritarianism wilting under the pressure of reality

A longstanding ban on selling sperm and eggs should be reconsidered to address a national shortage of donors, the head of the Government’s fertility watchdog says.

Payments to donors could cut the number of childless couples travelling abroad for treatment, Lisa Jardine, of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, told The Times.

The removal of anonymity for donors in 2005 and strict rules against payments have provoked a crisis in fertility treatment, forcing many couples to wait years for the therapy they need to start a family. A recent study showed that access to eggs and sperm was the main reason why hundreds of British couples became “fertility tourists” each month.

The number of treatment cycles using donated eggs fell by 25 per cent between 2004 and 2006; the number of women using donated sperm fell by 30 per cent. These trends have convinced Professor Jardine that the authority should reconsider its 2006 ruling that donors can get up to £250 in expenses but no direct payments.

Her move will raise concerns about a market in human tissue and exploitation of women as egg donation is invasive and involves an element of risk. In countries that allow payment, such as the United States, Spain and Russia, young women often donate to wipe out debts or to fund university fees.

Professor Jardine said that the law already treated eggs, sperm and embryos differently from other tissues, so there was no danger of setting a precedent for the sale of organs such as kidneys. Payment would also ensure that more women were treated in licensed domestic clinics, rather than in countries with less stringent regulations.

“I’m not saying the decision arrived at before I became chair wasn’t the right one at the time,” she said. “But given the evidence that egg shortage is driving women overseas, I feel a responsibility to look at it again.”

She said the principle that women could be compensated for donating had been established already through egg-sharing schemes, in which women were offered cheaper IVF for agreeing to give away some of their eggs.

The professor also called for a debate on the ethics of sperm and egg donation across generations and within families. She pointed to a case in which a lesbian couple had conceived with eggs donated by one partner, which were fertilised by the other woman’s brother. Each partner had one of the resulting embryos implanted and carried to term.


1 comment:

John A said...

"By 2050, 60 per cent of Britons will be obese because under the current definition the "obese" survive longer.

And in the course of surviving longer, they have more occasion to need medical care - so let's starve/work them to death before they need hip replacements or pacemakers. Heck, if the average person goes to the hospital once in six years then obviously those who live twelve years longer are going to cost us by going in two additional times.