Tuesday 17 August 2004

The evil Nestle.

I've heard a lot from left-wingers over the years about how Nestle are basically child-murdering racist criminal Nazis — and, I have to admit, I used to be one of those left-wingers and various people heard a lot about it from me. Sorry about that. Anyway, they've just launched a new range of low-carb sweets, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to sing their praises.

There is currently an obsession in our society with low-fat food. Most manufacturers respond to this by making "diet" versions of sweets, biscuits and puddings which are low in fat but preposterously high in sugar. If you're diabetic (as is my wife), this is an utter pain in the arse. Even if you're not diabetic, more and more research is showing that carbohydrates make you put on weight every bit as much as, or even more than, fat. After decades of denouncing him as a quack, the medical and dietary establishments are gradually realising that Atkins was on to something. If you're diabetic, and so have to consciously control your body's levels of insulin rather than leaving it up to your subconscious, you get to see the process in action, and it becomes amazingly obvious that carbohydrates and sugars are converted into fat quickly and easily.

Yet, despite the growing evidence, and despite the millions of people voting with their feet and switching to Atkins-inspired diets, manufacturers are ignoring the demand. Pick up a bit of "diet" food in your local supermarket and read the nutritional information: it is incredibly rare for them to have replaced any of the sugar with sweeteners — in fact, they often add more sugar to make up for the dearth in taste caused by removing all that yummy fat. So, thank you, Nestle, for the new low-carb versions of Rolo and Kit Kat. You can find the nutritional info here — it's astonishing just how little carbohydrate they've managed to put into products traditionally made of sugar, biscuit, and caramel. I've tasted the Kit Kat, and it is pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing.

Let's just make this absolutely clear: these products will genuinely improve many people's health and quality of life — not because diabetics with sweet teeth can now eat Kit Kats, but because what was an obscure niche market dominated by the sort of companies whose products one only ever sees in health food shops next to the seaweed-and-ginseng-marinated tofu has suddenly, and incredibly tastily, been broken into by a mainstream company with well-established, popular products. This has been a major gap in the market for ages now, so it's difficult to imagine that Nestle are going to fail with these two forays into the low-carb world, which means more products and, crucially, more manufacturers, will follow. The more mainstream this stuff becomes, the more the thinking behind it will permeate the public consciousness, and the healthier people's diets will become. This is the start of a revolution. Finally.

Thank you, Nestle.

Mind you, all that being said, £1.49 for a packet of Rolos? You're 'avin' a laugh, 'in't ya? Roll on the competition.


Gary said...

What worries me about the carb thing is the same issue that affects low-fat stuff: misleading labelling. I think there's a danger that in much the same way that people erroneously believe low-fat stuff is by definition good for them (something that isn't helped by misleading packaging), they'll believe that low-carb stuff is low in calories (when in many cases, it's anything but).

The message that IMO needs to get across to people isn't necessarily about low-carb or low-fat foods; it's about cooking. I'll save my "go organic" rant for another time, heh. But generally speaking, processed foods are full of crap and what the manufacturers remove in one area, they compensate for in another.

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Squander Two said...

I've posted about how wrong you are about calories. You're dead right about cooking, though. I avoid ready meals. I don't understand the desire for them, anyway: cooking's fun and easy.

Gary said...

According to the Times, the amount of time spent preparing meals has dropped from 60 mins in the 80s to 19 mins today, although among obese people that figure is even lower. Interestingly it also suggests that while calorie intake has dropped 20% since the 70s, the decline in exercise is equivalent to an average 800 calorie per day increase in intake.

I'm sure you'll disagree with all of it, but it's an interesting article:


This is good too, on the atkins tip: