/ Food & Drink, Health

Think you’re food smart? Change4Life wants you to think again

Change4life image from Food Smart advertisement

Many of us are not sure how much salt, fat and sugar is in the food we eat. Change4Life’s new Food Smart campaign aims to give us all the information we need to make healthier food choices.

Here at Which? we’ve been campaigning for healthy eating for all and we want to see reductions in the levels of salt, fat and sugar in food and drinks. From our report on pizzas to analysing breakfast cereals, our product comparisons have often shown that you and your kids could easily be eating more than the guideline daily amounts without even realising.

Just a spoonful of sugar…

When we looked at breakfast cereals last February we found that 32 out of the 50 varieties we reviewed were high in sugar, such as Frosties at 37%. Many of those were aimed at children.

Our sandwiches report in May 2012 also found that you could be eating three times as much fat and saturated fat depending on the sandwich you buy.

Change4Life, the healthy living initiative from the NHS, recently ran a survey that found almost four out of five people don’t realise that a supermarket ham and cheese sandwich contains more salt than a packet of ready salted crisps. The results came from a food IQ test designed to see how savvy we all are when it comes to calories and nutrition.

I expected to get a fairly high score in the test. I’m aware of the products that are likely to contain lots of salt and which ones have oodles of saturated fat. When I’m out shopping, I check the labels of products and make decisions based on what I see.

Deep fat pizza – no thanks

Turns out, I’m not as sugar savvy as I thought. Nor am I fabulous at deciding which meals contain the most fat. I scored a measly 50% in the food IQ test and the only area I scored highly on was salt awareness.

It seems as though I could benefit from more education. Change4Life’s new Food Smart campaign could help – it’s all about making sure we know how much salt, fat and sugar is lurking in our meals. We’re then more likely to eat a balanced diet.

Rather than vilifying particular foods, the campaign suggests healthier alternatives and ways to cut back on fat and swap out sugary snacks.

If I’m going to have pizza for dinner on Wednesday, a veggie or seafood topping is going to have less fat than a meat feast. If I want to cut down on sugar, switching my breakfast cereal would be a good place to start.

Although, pizza’s unlikely to be on my menu until I can get one of Change4Life’s examples out of my mind: the fat from the average deep pan pizza could fill a wine glass. Bleurgh.

Are you food savvy? Can you beat my score in the food IQ test? How do you make sure you eat a balanced diet?

Comments
Member

I’m not impressed by the quiz, which lacks information about some of the portion sizes. I scored 75%, though some of that was pure guesswork.

I’m one of those who has a reasonably balanced diet, but unfortunately eats too much of it. 🙂

Member

Well done, Wavechange. That’s a big improvement on my score. I did find it a bit odd to think in terms of sugar cubes – I haven’t seen a sugar cube for years.

Member

The quiz is well done – well presented and revealing. But I didn’t know it existed until I saw this post, so how many others would see it? I only scored 67% though.
It did reinforce my view that it’s good to eat a balanced home cooked diet. I am not the best, though, at doing that – my treat after Christmas, when we have ribs of beef, is the dripping on toast (with a little salt) for breakfast for a few days. That used to be a regular start to the day when I was young and you got proper meat (i.e. with fat). I am taking statins as a fat offset (!)

Member

We’re test brothers – I got 67% as well.

Member

I also completed the quiz-score 50% however it was pure speculation. I tend not to eat the examples given as I am aware that they are shall we say “dodgy”. I tend to eat fresh fruit and vegetables little red meat but I eat poultry fish and a fair sprinkling of vegetarian foods. No teabags but fresh tea brewed in a very handy fusion tea pot. Freshly ground coffee decafe and I like the odd glass of decent wine. Oh yes and I am now into the very nice artisan breads becoming more widely available. I also do admit to the sin of the occasional delicious desert perhaps to much sugar there? However so far I feel ok and shall we say I am no spring chicken. Still informed information on these matters is most welcome.

Member
sencit says:
11 January 2013

Having nearly finished reading Escape the Diet Trap by Dr John Briffa, I am really concerned about dietary advice. I would love to get feedback on what others think about the contents. At present I am really impressed with what he recommends and feel the public should be made more aware of the information contained in it, and other up-to-date research results. I am strongly in favour of more information, honesty and clarity being simply made available to us all. We need a government brave enough to stand up to manufacturers and retailers who put profit before the life and health of their fellow man.

Member
George says:
11 January 2013

I would applaud this initiative if I thought it was sincere, however this is the same Government who recently allowed Academy schools to opt out of the nutritional standards for school meals, as established by Jamie Oliver’s school meals campaign. I cannot think of any logical reason for doing this, other than financial ones? I personally follow the dietary guidelines supplied by the Cardiac dietician following my heart attack and that is to try NOT to exceed the following nutritional values per 100g table they supplied which is; Sugar 2g; Fat 3g (total) of which Saturates 1g or less; Sodium/Salt 0.1g/0.25g. It’s not easy to find these values all in one commodity, but reading the labels becomes second nature very quickly and it works for me.

Member

Public establishments where we must eat – especially Hospitals – should provide nutritious healthy food. However, for general eating we should take responsibility for our own food habits, supported by appropriate education and honest information. Don’t try and make the State responsible for what you should be doing for yourself.

Member

I thought I knew a thing or two about healthy eating after doing a year of ‘Weight Watchers’