Friday, 2 September 2011

Why does no-one in the media ever question what these people say?


The "salt is evil' lobby have found a new target - bread:

A third of breads contain more salt than recommended under guidelines being introduced next year, a survey found.

Most breads were within the current guidelines of 1.1g of salt per 100g - but this is being cut to 1g per 100g.
Campaign for Action on Salt and Health (Cash), which looked at 300 breads, said it was "outrageous" that bread contained even the current level.

This is more junk science - there's very little evidence that fingers salt as a cause of high blood pressure yet the  media and worshippers at the Church of Public Health persist in the 'salt is bad for you line.

People who ate lots of salt were not more likely to get high blood pressure, and were less likely to die of heart disease than those with a low salt intake, in a new European study.

The findings "certainly do not support the current recommendation to lower salt intake in the general population," study author Dr. Jan Staessen, of the University of Leuven in Belgium, told Reuters Health.

Perhaps one day we'll start looking at the science?




Adam said...

There's actually quite a bit of evidence showing that salt is bad for you, but much of it has been badly misrepresented in the media recently, so I can see why you might think the evidence is week.

There was quite a good piece explaining all this on More or Less recently: well worth a listen, which you can do here:

billynojob said...

There are two key difficulties in this kind of research. First is that most nutrition researchers will concede that big population studies depend on the participants, in an unmonitored environment, accurately recording their every food and drink intake over years. This is extremely unreliable - I've tried tracking my food intake over weeks, with a serious personal motivation for doing so accurately, and I know for a fact that I was nowhere near 100% accurate, not only about the amounts, but even what all the foods were. So when we try an extrapolate from these studies (and they're the best we've got) what the effects might be of relatively marginal differences in diet, the errors are frequently larger than the effects one's trying to measure.

Second, this kind of study which tries to isolate individual nutrients such as salt, or saturated fat, or whatever, ignores the real world of complexity, and of total effects. So in this case, we jump from "salt is bad" (not as clear cut a conclusion as we've been led to believe anyway) to "bread with more salt than X is bad". The bread with more salt tends to be "real" bread, made by craft bakers, from good ingredients that you've actually heard of, like wheat. The "good" bread turns out to be white sliced polystyrene made from a vast menu of stabilisers, texturisers, improvers, soya, sugar, etc. but with industrially controlled amounts of salt which meet the criterion X. This does not make the bread good, nor better for you than bread with higher levels of salt.

Rather than have everyone feverishly checking the ingredients lists of industrialised "food-like substances", public health would be better served by people eating real food, on the basis of what they enjoy eating, and to hell with the paranoia about this that or the other individual nutrient.