Firstly, there's something disingenuous about the cost argument for healthy (ie non-processed/fast foods)
Poorer people have up to a threefold increased risk of heart disease over those who live in more affluent areas of the country. The focus for the Nice committee was safeguarding the population, rather than advising the individual who may have limited options.He wibbled on.
[Klim McPherson, professor of health epidemiology at Oxford University and chairman of the Nice committee said] "It is about busy people having a lot to do, having to make choices on the fly, making pragmatic choices on how they feed themselves and their children," said McPherson. "Commercial organisations are very good at exploiting people who make choices on price and convenience."
“Where food is concerned, we want the healthy choice to be the easy choice. Going even further, we want the healthy choice to be the less expensive, more attractive choice."Now, I don't understand this. We are consistently told that healthy, non-processed food is the cheapest option.
In fact, it is demonstrably true. If one really cares about healthy food, pasta, tomatoes, garlic and mixed herbs, for example, will make a family meal for buttons. If you want meat, even enough of the leanest pork for four will only set you back around £3. Combine potatoes to half a pound of minced beef and a carrot and you have cottage pie for six.
Anyone can do this, and it doesn't take knowledge of food ingredients or the difficult (for some, apparently) task of reading the mandatory nutrition details on the label.
So, considering healthy food is already the cheapest, we are into the 'easy' territory. In fact, that is all this guidance is about - the fact that the food industry markets to a public who wish to buy food which is simple to prepare.
It is consumer choice they are trying to restrict, pure and simple.
So why has most of the coverage today focussed on the 'evil' food industry? Well, probably because if NICE had attacked the true source of the problem - people who don't worry too much about food and choose things which are simple to prepare - their advice wouldn't come across as very caring, would it?
If Mike Kelly had turned up on BBC Breakfast, and declared that he was determined to stop the poor buying shit, Guardian readers, far from indulging in an anti-industry frenzy, would have vehemently turned on him instead.
Much more persuasive to target the imperialist capitalist food manufacturers who consistently reduce prices for the consumer in the face of overwhelming demand, eh?
It's the way you tell 'em, ain't it Mike?
Similarly sinister is the suggestion that fast food outlets should be banned near schools. There can, of course, be no suggestion that such places are the cheaper alternative, only that the people who pay NICE's wages - you know, us - very much like what they sell, and that just won't do.
This idea has been trialled already in the UK and the results weren't pretty as I pointed out last year. 'Near schools' soon turns into 'near schools, parks and leisure centres' ... and 'near' soon becomes 'not as near as first suggested'.
The essence of the 'next logical step' principle.
And all for what? Naturally, it's the false economy of saving cost to the NHS.
They believe that reducing salt and saturated fats, as well as banning trans-fats, would save the NHS more than £1bn.That there are still millions in our country who believe such a whopping fib is proof that the funding of NICE should be shifted into education sharpish.
Healthy people cost the country far more than the unhealthy, and when pension provision is taken into consideration, the idea that - somehow - people dying early will cost the country more becomes pure comedy.
Hey, don't argue with me that life isn't all about cost ... I'm not the one making that gambit. It's just very simple to disprove, is all.
So, NICE's advice today boils down to ...
- Some lies
- The poor aren't making the correct decisions so we must force them to do so.
- Expensive food is popular so we have to ban it
- We hate the capitalist food industry which has enhanced choice
- The NHS profits from poor health but if we said so we'd not have a job tomorrow
Little wonder, then, that the government told them to shove it. With any luck, this will start a trend for the new lot.
But just in case they are wavering, may I remind them of a previous gem from NICE?
Hiking booze prices will force shops to slash the cost of food - and lead to greater state benefits, say a health watchdog.Yes, that's right. If the coalition ramps up alcohol prices with, say, a minimum price, food will get cheaper and NICE can start the whole 'cheap food is killing the country' meme again.
[...] the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence believe that if supermarkets cannot entice customers with cut-price booze, they will use food as "loss leaders" instead.