Children food health and why our kid's health is under threat...

The Good Life Letter 

6th March 2011

  • Why large corporate food companies should be put on the spot
  • Discover the hidden health risk to our children
  • Children food health the checklist you need to stick to

A few weeks ago I was saying how stupid I thought some of the health advice we have been getting from our government has been.

It's fair to say that it generated a real diverse response from you.

I got a lot of people saying that they supported what I was saying, and others who thought I was banging a political drum too much.

Well, I really hope that you know me well enough that I have a healthy disrespect for all forms of political party, whatever the hue.

My concerns are all about health, and the way that we are manipulated by overt commercial interest.

Those that I want to see brought to book are the corporate food giants and the supermarkets that push their unhealthy pap onto the British public - and the fact that those who should be protecting us sit idly by just makes this worse.

This week The Daily Telegraph seems to have taken up the same message - it reported that food specifically aimed at children could commit them to a lifetime of heart disease.

This is food that is advertised on TV, supported by internet games and made visible in our supermarkets by highly coloured sales promotion - food generating huge profits for all involved.

Food that WILL cause the premature death of our children.

Discover the hidden health risk to our children

Put like that can you understand why I refuse to let this subject slide away? Can you see why I think we should challenge our political leaders and supermarket chiefs to stop this vile practice?

The report in the Telegraph stated that there was a hidden salt risk to our children due to high levels of this mineral being added to fast food, ready made pasta, cereals and treats.

Salt is an important part of our diet, but in moderate amounts, children need very little to stay healthy, and should eat much less than adults.

The effects of a salt rich diet for adults have long been shown to cause high blood pressure and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. In childhood too much salt produces a serious rise in blood pressure that will WORSEN with age.

This creates a ticking bomb of cardiac problems that will affect these children throughout their lives - all for the sake of food manufacturer and retailer profits.

Just as a small aside, there is also a direct link between salt and childhood obesity - a topic which seems to have been high on everyone's agenda for some time now.

The connection here isn't that obvious until you consider that as salt in the diet increases so does thirst - and most kids reach for high calorie soft drinks to slake this. This is why fast food outlets heavily salt their fries - it's the best way to sell more drink.

The healthy ones among you might consider that you are avoiding salt as much as possible, however, the problem comes when it gets hidden in foodstuffs that you don't expect.

Bread, cereals, cakes and even cheese contain added salt as well as the more obvious processed foods - even pre-packed sandwiches are loaded with the stuff.

It has been many years since salt deficiency was a factor in the national health, so why does the health minister allow such an obvious risk to play such a part in our diet?

What can you do to reduce the amount of salt you eat?

Small changes which can give major benefit

There are some changes we can make without affecting our enjoyment of food:

  • The obvious things are to avoid processed and canned foods, take-aways and the things which have high salt content. Also, don't add salt to cooking or to the food on your plate. Now, I won't tell anyone to forgo the visceral pleasure of a bag of hot chips with salt and vinegar, but these need to be an occasional treat rather than the norm!
  • Use fresh, dried or even frozen herbs to enhance the flavour of food. Most chefs will tell you that they load salt into their creations as it helps bring out flavour, however, you can achieve the same results by careful use of the correct herbs, citrus juice and dried fruits depending on the dish.
  • Don't slosh the soy sauce over your noodles. Soy has very high sodium content so treat it like salt.
  • Make your own muesli. Breakfast cereals all have high salt content, so making your own means that you know what's in it, and it tastes better too!
  • Most food packaging tells you how much salt is in the contents, so choose wisely and avoid the high dose red flags. Better still only buy fresh vegetables rather than tinned - and if you have no choice make sure you rinse them well in clean water before cooking as this will significantly reduce the amount of salt.

Having said all this a friend of mine tells me that we are heading towards the time of year when people do show up with signs of sodium/salt deficiency.

He reckons that the London Marathon in April causes more people to experience this rare condition than anything else. It's all about sweat.

When we perspire we loose body minerals, especially salt - and that's why folk who are heading into the desert are given salt tablets. This practice seems bizarre in an area where there is little water, but it is done to keep their mineral balance in check.

So for the runners amongst you make sure you have a few salt tablets with you when you're pounding your way around the streets, for the rest of us and especially our kids cut it out!

Governments do have a responsibility for our health but they have to do more than window dressing with a nice PR campaign. They have to take on the source of bad and damaging nutrition not allow corporate giants to hijack the process.

Is it just me or can you see the impact of sponsorship cash, party funding and political lobbying getting more control in our nations health than the will of the people?

Yours, as always



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