The not-so-sweet link between Big Sugar and the peak body for dietitians

I released a little thunder on this page a fortnight ago, noting that the health star rating system we use on food labelling in Australia is demonstrably ludicrous. The column damn nigh went viral, and I was contacted from all quarters by professionals and punters alike, strongly agreeing it was a farce. One exception was a phone call from a nice bloke high in the star rating apparatus itself asking me to understand that with the politics of food, the power of Big Sugar, the rating-system was actually a triumph of what could be achieved against all odds, and they were now working on its flaws.

But I say bugger it.

When it comes to the politics of food, we need a government that insists the public health infrastructure be freed from the influence of Big Sugar and be devoted to one thing and one thing only – something like, you know, public health?

But it is not remotely like that, and the star rating system is far from alone in suffering that influence.

Take, for example, the Dietitians Association of Australia. Often you see DAA spokespeople, instead of sounding the sirens on the dangers of sugar as you’d expect, actively playing down the dangers.

“People are looking for a prescription,” a Dietitians Association of Australia’s spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Australian Womens Weekly. “But you can eat a healthy balanced diet including all food groups and lose weight. It’s about cutting your portion sizes and getting outside and exercising.”

Yup. But let me get this straight? Australia is in the middle of an obesity epidemic, in large part because instead of the 2 kilograms a year of sugar that humans are equipped to eat without damage the average Australian is consuming 20 to 30 times that amount, and the association is saying stuff that could only please sugar interests?

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