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Will the Worst Foods Finally Be Declared "Junk"?

In the struggle against obesity, are bad foods truly the enemy, or just bad eating habits? I've written before about the five worst foods anyone could eat, so bad that I can't understand why people would choose to eat them. So for me, the answer is a definitive "Yes!"

According to this recent report, a number of experts are starting to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, one prominent medical expert believes we should arm consumers by literally labeling the enemy junk food. Snack foods like desserts, soft drinks, and salty snacks, all of which have been linked to poor eating habits and nutrient deficiencies, make up nearly one third of the average American diet.

A "scarlet J" to mark junk food packages would put the blame where experts say it belongs--on "bad foods" rather than on the people who eat them.

Labels currently provided by the food manufacturers that advertise "no cholesterol" or "low in transfats" fail to inform consumers about the food's overall nutritional quality. A kid's cereal, for example, is often full of refined sugars and empty calories, but a parent may purchase it because of a label saying it is fortified with vitamins and minerals.

This proposal aims to encompass many nutrition indicators into one government-sanctioned label on the front of the package. A panel of nutrition experts would assign ratings to foods based on a "Nutrient Quality Index" that includes calories, bad and overconsumed nutrients and good and under-consumed nutrients.

Such a system is already in place in Sweden, where low-fat and fiber rich foods are marked with a green keyhole symbol using food-specific criteria.

ABC News July 27, 2004

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