The SST today contains the singularly unsurprising news that the foods people buy the most of are the ones that are mainly sugar (and before you write in to complain, as far as your digestive system's concerned white bread and tinned spaghetti just about are sugar). The news is unsurprising because that behaviour's built into us by evolution. For almost the entire period of homo sapiens' existence, our bodies have been laboriously turning meat, eggs, vegetation, nuts etc into glucose. 100,000 years ago, a big direct hit of sugar courtesy of honey or fruit was a rare treat and the fat your body laid down as a result could mean the difference between life and death later on. These days of course, you can have a big direct hit of sugar and the resulting fat deposit every single day, while at the same time never facing the food shortages that would make that fat something useful to have - but as far as your inner critter is concerned, a choice between glucose you have to process for yourself or a direct hit of sugar is still a no-brainer.
Of course, the fact that it's unsurprising people buy big cheap hits of sugar rather than food your digestive system has to process into glucose itself doesn't make it any less annoying. It's not exactly news that hitting your digestive system with a diet consisting mainly of sugar for years on end knackers your ability to produce and use insulin (mainly by constantly spiking your blood sugar levels and working your islets of langerhans to an early grave), and you end up as a type 2 diabetic. Or am I over-rating public awareness of this stuff? Either this isn't the common knowledge I'd imagined it to be, or a large proportion of the population is ruled by their inner critter. Most likely it's a bit of both.
So, yeah - we do want to encourage people to mostly stick to eating stuff their bodies have to laboriously process into glucose, not just constantly eating direct shots of sugar (whether of the Coke or white bread variety). That's a hard sell though, cos your lizard brain has half a billion years of evolutionary training to take the opposite view.
Enter the nutritionists and the politicians. Naturally, Sue Kedgeley's in there, with a proposal to ban something (nothing new there). As Danyl says, she never met a ban she didn't like. Annette King's in there as well, with a statement largely expressing ignorance (nothing new there either):
King said sophisticated marketing techniques fuel human beings' innate addiction to fatty, sugary and salty foods.
Er, this is like talking about human beings' innate addiction to breathing. The requirement we have for basics essential to the continuation of our existence is not "addiction." If Annette's managed to discover a way for humans to live without sugar, salt or fat, she should patent it immediately.
We don't expect any better from politicians, of course. But you could be entitled to expect better fron professional nutritionists. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
For me, the most annoying thing about all this food blather is the constant bollocks about "healthy" vs "unhealthy" food from nutritionists. For the record, "unhealthy" food is food that contains bacteria that will make you ill, is contaminated with something poisonous, etc. However, very little of the food labelled "unhealthy" by nutritionists comes into that category. When nutritionists talk about "healthy" and "unhealthy" food, they're applying moral rather than scientific labels.
Fact: Coke is good, "healthy" food. It's excellent food - so excellent in fact, that according to the nutritionist quoted in the SST, a litre of it provides enough energy for 2 hours walking. The only problem with it is that you basically have no requirement whatsoever for such excellent, top-grade food when you spend most of your time sitting on your arse. It's like putting avgas in your Daihatsu Scirion - excellent, high-grade fuel, but there's not much point when ordinary old 91 unleaded meets your requirements.
In short: the food on that list is "healthy" food. The "unhealthy" bit is you sticking so much of it in your gob that you end up as a mobile lard mountain with a pancreas that just can't keep up any more.
It would help with this stuff no end if we stopped pretending nutritionists and epidemiologists were scientists, and instead put them in the social sciences where they belong. Most of what nutritionists have to tell you about "healthy" vs "unhealthy" food comes from doing studies, identifying correlations, and coming up with theories to account for those correlations - if there is some basis on which this is different from sociology, I've yet to see it.
How about this: instead of a whole lot of moralising bullshit about "unhealthy" food, we just do some education on the connection between type 2 diabetes and a diet based mainly on the excellent, high-grade, "healthy" food on that list? Along with some serious anti-smoking-style horror-show shit about the amputated limbs, impotence, blindness and life on a dialysis machine following your kidney failure that are the eventual outcomes of uncontrolled or undiagnosed type 2?