This morning on the TV1 Breakfast show they covered the story of the recently released list of foods we “needn’t” eat (i.e. those which are “non-essential, energy-dense and nutritionally deficient.”). This list has been released by researchers from the University of Otago who are concerned that there is a lot of confusion about foods and wanted to create a list of foods one “needn’t eat” particularly if one wants to lose weight. A list of these foods can be found here.

During the interview of Dr Jane Elmslie, she was asked by Petra Bagust if this list wasn’t an example of nanny state thinking.

This type of question really irritates me. Here we have a researcher pointing out foods which we NEEDN’T eat, because they are calorie rich and nutrient deficient. She isn’t saying don’t eat them, she isn’t pushing for regulation, she has simply provided information.*

It will be interesting to see how food manufacturers, particularly of so-called “healthy” muesli bars will respond to this list. For too long they have actively promoted food with silly claims on them (i.e. marshmallows sold as 98% fat free, as if this means they are a healthy option).

* Homeopaths and other “alternative” medicine practitioners will sometimes take a similar approach when their trade is criticised. They like to imply that somehow critics are attempting to ban their product or therapy, when in fact what they are truly afraid of is that once the public truly understand what their product is all about, that it will be rejected.