Thursday, November 23, 2006

Less pies, faster

I had meetings in London today, and there's nothing I can say publicly about those just yet, so a slightly different blog today.

And as I am posting this late I have already seen Friday's interview with Nestlé Chief Executive Officer, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, in The Guardian. I imagine the headline is not one he relishes: "Peter Brabeck-Letmathe: smooth defender of a tainted brand". See,,1955666,00.html.

Thursday though, two things caught my eye in the newspapers on the train on the way back from London. One of them is a great piece of journalism, I wanted to share for being so funny and so concise.

Both articles are on the subject of obesity. The first in one of the free London papers handed out on street corners was headlined: "Exposed: tricks junk food giants use on children". It was based on a report from the Consumer Association (remember Monday's blog was about a campaigning award set up in memory of a past Director, Sheila McKechnie?). They have documented the methods companies use to target children using new forms of marketing. Nestlé, for example, has a website for one of its sugary drinks where kids are able to leave messages for their friends to pick up.

We keep a watch on what is going on in the area of obesity, partly because we are well familiar with the strategies Nestlé uses in attempting to weaken regulations - and it is heavily involved in trying to undermine regulations in this area. But also because of the crucial role of infant feeding decisions on future chance of obesity. We raise the importance of promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding as part of a coordinated strategy on tackling the obesity epidemic. More about that another time, but one amazing fact that will bear repeating is: "Artificially fed infants consume 30,000 more calories than breastfed infants by 8 months of age." (Human Lactation 1999). Which is equivalent to 120 Mars bars. If you can't wait for the serious information, see

The other article, I am including below. It shows how a clear policy lead from a government can have a wide impact in changing social attitudes. I imagine some will read it and think: "Political correctness gone mad", which is perhaps inevitable when attitudes and traditions change in light of new understanding.

But I include it for two reasons.

Firstly, I think it is very funny, though i accept that you may have to be English to understand this.

Secondly, it is brilliant journalism. I can just imagine The Guardian news editor handing a press release to the journalist, Helen Carter, and saying: "Helen, make something of this. No more than 100 words, please."

So here it is. Available on line at,,1954597,00.html


Pie-eating contest cuts down on the calories

The World Pie Eating Championship is to change emphasis from volume to speed this year in an attempt to satisfy healthy eating campaigners.

The competition at Harry's Bar in Wigan has always been won by the contestant who eats the most meat and potato pies in three minutes. But this year, it will be whoever eats a single pie in the shortest time.

Tony Callaghan, owner of Harry's Bar, is also offering a vegetarian option.

He said the contest was "doffing its cap to government guidelines on obesity".

"I realise this might be controversial," he said. "But this is the way forward for pie-eating at this level."

Helen Carter

And perhaps pie-eating at any level. Thanks Helen. I still laugh when I read it.

1 comment:

Moby Dick said...

None of this should be surprising! Foods are full of sugars and additives to create an addictive response, and if you watch TV, you will see tons of ads for fast foods, pies, cakes, candy, etc., that always show some thin beauties eating the products in a setting that implies that the food will make you sexier or more popular.