Monday, 9 May 2016

Nick Triggle: BBC crusader

We have seen Nick 'feels strongly about this' Triggle's activism masquerading as BBC journalism many times on this blog, and there is a classic of genre out today. It contains no news whatsoever and is apropos absolutely nothing.

Regular readers will be familiar with Triggle's technique of writing 500 words of one-sided 'public health' propaganda before finishing by saying something like 'Whatever happens, this one will run and run', as if that constitutes a critical analysis.

This week, it is yoghurts that have caught his attention...

When it comes to understanding the challenge facing the nation on obesity, yoghurt is a good place to start.

Hmm. Is it, though?

In its normal state - natural full-fat - it's pretty good for you. It can boost your immune system, is good for your bones and is great at satisfying hunger.

The problem is that a great deal of the yoghurt we buy is not the natural stuff. Instead we seem to like the processed products, which are made by partly substituting yoghurt and adding a combination of other ingredients such as gelatine, sugar and flavourings. 

Yoghurt is always a processed food, you berk. Do you think it grows in the ground in little plastic pots?

It tends to be cheaper to produce per calorie, but nowhere near as good for you.

Citation very much needed. If this article is about 'understanding the challenge facing the nation on obesity' Triggle must mean 'high in calories' when he says 'nowhere near as good for you'. And yet it is far from obvious that full fat yoghurts are any less fattening than the 'processed' [sic] yoghurts he is railing against.

For example, a Muller Fruit Corner has 111 calories per 100g. A Muller Corner Red Cherry has 109 calories per 100g. A Waitrose Greek Style Low Fat Yoghurt (ie. with added sugar) has 77 calories per 100g. A Strawberry Mullerlight has 51 calories per 100g.

How does this compare with those 'healthy' high-fat yoghurts? Well, a Yeo Valley Natural Greek style yoghurt  has 129 calories per 100g and a Waitrose Greek Style Natural Yoghurt has 122 calories per 100g. The Yeo Valley (non-Greek Style) natural yoghurt is about as good as it gets with 84 calories.

Low fat yoghurts are generally lower in calories. This is hardly surprising since there are far more calories in a gram of fat than there is in a gram of sugar. Comparing like with like, the Waitrose Natural Yoghurt has a red traffic light rating for fat but the low fat version doesn't get a red rating for anything. Nevertheless, it is the high calorie, high fat version that Triggle thinks we should be buying if we want to face the 'obesity challenge'.

Muller produces a number of different types, one of which is the crunch corner series of yoghurts. They contain between 21g and 30g of sugar - most of this is from added sugars rather than natural sugars from milk.

Because sugar from milk is made by God and is good for you whereas sugar from beet or cane is made by Dr Frankenstein and will kill you.

I am not a yoghurt muncher so I don't know this market well, but from what I can see of the Muller crunch corners, they all contain chocolate digestives or vanilla chocolate balls and are therefore obviously not (a) typical, (b) for weight-conscious consumers. Even so, they only contain 150 calories per 100g, which is only a little more than many of the natural yoghurts.

Needless to say, yoghurts are merely a pretext for Triggle to bring up his pet 'public health' policies...

To support sales, Muller Corner heavily invests in advertising...

The horror!

The vast majority went on TV adverts, including during X Factor, which, while watched by many children, is not covered by the ban on junk food advertising, which only applies to programmes aimed solely at children.

Yadda, yadda.

Muller, as you would expect, defends its brands, pointing out it has a range of products, including Mullerlight and Muller Rice, and that it is clear all its products should be consumed as part of a "varied and balanced diet".

But this doesn't wash for campaigners. They want tighter restrictions on the food industry believing the way food is now produced, marketed and promoted is to blame. 

And they won't be getting any argument for you, will they Nick?

It carries on this vein for a little longer with some rhetoric about the 'obesogenic' environment and the usual sleight of hand about healthy food being more expensive than unhealthy food. And then the money shot...

So what can be done? The tax on sugary drinks, announced earlier this year and due to come into force in 2018, was widely welcomed. But it is seen as just a start by the health lobby, which has been buoyed by its success in convincing ministers to take the plunge on the sugar tax - for months they had been suggesting they weren't keen.

Other steps, including a more substantial restriction on advertising, an end to promotions such as buy-one-get-one-free deals and clearer labelling, are now being targeted.

Et cetera, et cetera. Why should licence fee payers have to support this ignorant, misleading and obviously partisan crusade of Nick Triggle's?

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