Thursday, 6 February 2014

"The strategy is to isolate an unhealthy product and bash it relentlessly."

An article in The Telegraph about sugar sums up the unending public health crusade...

So why has our affair with sugar suddenly turned bitter? Well, partly because we needed a new target. We’ve had the war on tobacco, and on fat. Salt is another recent adversary, with a group called the Consensus Action on Salt and Health, or CASH, spearheading a British campaign to lower salt in foods. The strategy is to isolate an unhealthy product and bash it relentlessly.

That's the plan and, as the writer says, it has "been brilliantly successful". In campaigning terms, this is true. In scientific terms, not so much. The war on saturated fat turned out to be based on a poor evidence and has since been abandoned, but not before food manufacturers were pressured into creating a range of low-fat products which had more sugar in them.

The war on salt was similarly based on hysterical claims and has fallen over the radar, with Consensus Action on Salt and Health morphing seamlessly into Action on Sugar.

The bone-headed policy of 'isolating an unhealthy product and bashing it relentlessly' is not too clever when you're dealing with salt, sugar and fat. None of them are unhealthy per se, and there are unintended consequences that come from 'bashing' them.

Campaigners will only be trusted if they play it absolutely straight.

That's Action on Sugar screwed then. Aseem Malhotra is their scientific director.

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