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obese womanWith the American Medical Association voting to recognise obesity as a disease, are new food labelling standards announced by public health minister Anna Soubry the answers to the UK’s own “obesity epidemic”?

The new consistent system of front-of-pack food labelling is to be introduced in the UK, the government says. A combination of colour coding and nutritional information will be used to show how much fat, salt and sugar and how many calories are in each product. All the major supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Tesco – have announced that they will use the label on their products, alongside Mars UK, Nestle UK, PepsiCo UK, Premier Foods and McCain Foods. However, it is expected that only 60% of foods will be covered by the system because it will remain voluntary.

Cadbury and Coke

In issuing statements that they preferred the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) system which is currently in place, Cadbury and Coca-Cola are thought to be the first major retailers to publicly reject the new system.

How useful is food labelling?

Personally I question the value of food labelling anyway. For example, a bag of sugar can be labelled as ‘fat free’ yet we all know sugar makes us fat. Similarly, a 330ml can of Diet Coke contains no sugar, no fat and just one calorie. This is because the 35g of sugar in the same size can of regular Coke have been replaced by aspartame. From a food label this would almost certainly lead you to believe Diet Coke is a healthier option, yet there are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption, and these are only the ones that are known about.

My advice would be to either eat foods that don’t have / need a label (fruit and vegetables anyone?) or read the ingredients. Oh, and when it comes to checking ingredients I would suggest following some of the advice in Michael Pollans’ Food Rules, such as “avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.”

Cystic Fibrosis A Race We Must Win2013 Miles in 2013

This year I am trying to complete 2013 miles self-powered miles. My 2013 miles in 2013 challenge is in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles, in April I completed 192.1 miles and in May I completed 168 miles. If you can please spare £9.53 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.

The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page:

2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules

The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.