Calorie counting to lose weight is a bit fat waste of time

The Good Life Letter

Sunday 11th September 2011

  • Find out why fast-food companies are getting it so wrong
  • Calorie counting to lose weight is flawed in so many ways
  • Fancy a sneaky tip to win competitions?

The food PR machine has been in overdrive this week apparently helping us if we're calorie counting to lose weight.

McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King & Pizza Hut have all announced this week that they will be displaying the calorie count for each of their products on their menus.

Each of them wheeled out serious-looking spokespeople to smile at the cameras and bask in the plaudits for their honesty.

They smugly promised to provide us with all the necessary information so we could make 'informed' choices about our food.

Images were shown of thoughtful-looking teenagers deciding between a lard burger or a piece of lettuce that they were about to spend their lunch money on.

I was truly sickened by the whole spectacle.

This piece of commercialised breast-beating by the big food companies is once again the tail wagging the dog.
Let me give you three really good reasons why you should reject this initiative out of hand;

  • 1) There is NO evidence that this will work. I read with interest a statement from McDonalds that said it expected that the eating habits of its customers would change to reflect their desire to manage their diets.

    I imagine that they still weren't aware of what impact the health warnings on cigarette packets had on smokers.

    A report published earlier this year by a joint team of psychologists from Bristol and Stirling Universities showed that smokers ignored any health warnings on packs, and even ignored the pack designs - because they responded to price offers and discounts first, then brand and then any other considerations after that.

    This being the case people will enter a fast-food store and respond to offers rather than calorie counters. Isn't it ironic that at the same time they launch this bit of PR puff all of the chains have huge publicity campaigns running for specially discounted products...and not one of them is a salad!

  • 2) This is putting the cart before the horse. How is it that the choice of a 495 calorie burger or a 330 calorie wrap is seen as informed choice?

    These products are still full of salt, saturated and trans-fats, and very low in nutritional value.

    If our government and health professionals really did want to make a difference they should force change upon the industry to remove all this rubbish from the national diet.

    If a company wants to sell fast food it should conform to minimum standards of quality, and if this adds 50p to the price then so be it.

  • 3) Emphasising calorie levels avoids the REAL issue. Allowing the food giants to focus solely on the calorie level will allow the food giants to draw misleading comparisons. Their fatty food may contain a similar amount of calories as a wholesome meal but here the similarities end.

    Mark my words the marketing teams will already have reams of data looking at the calorie level of freshly made macaroni cheese, and a dressed salad compared to their flame grilled Angus beef patty. Bet you can guess which one is going to come out on top in that one.

We have already seen this happen in the car industry, where the government wanted to see a contribution being made to reducing greenhouse gases.

Now each manufacturer publishes a carbon dioxide emissions figure for each model, but the problem with this is that the measurement is made at a very specific point in the rev range of the car...

...So the manufacturers now engineer this lean point into the engines, beyond that they can smoke away like a navvy!

So calorie-counting means nothing - you can stuff in more calories than a chocolate bar if you sit down to a fresh fruit salad and a Greek yoghurt but have a think about which would be better for you.

But enough ranting...

A cheery end note, you could be a winner too

A few weeks ago I told you about the joy Lara gets from doing competitions, and my frustration that sections of my newspapers disappear before I get a chance to read them (Good Life Letter 21 August).

Well, I've just found a way to get my revenge and a chance to win big in the process.

Trying to search out all of the daily competitions is a bit of a bind, especially for a busy chap like me, so I've signed up for the Prize Draw Centre

This fantastic service just enters me into over TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY competitions a month! Do I lift a finger? Do I need to run down to the postbox? Do I need to find the answers to tricky questions? NO, no and thrice no! It's all done for me so I get all the excitement of winning without the hassle of entering.

Makes me feel like a naughty schoolboy, but I'm having so much fun!

Yours, as always


PS: Have a look at the amazing prizes that people have won by doing absolutely nothing at all. Just go to Prize Draw Centre







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