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Head in Hands: Schools Still Advising Parents To Switch To Low Fat Alternatives

Published on January 27, 2014,

Just when it seems the message is getting through to the mainstream that it is almost certainly sugar that is the real villain in the obesity epidemic, those of us based in the England or Wales with children will have been brought down to earth with a leaflet from schools advising parents to switch to low fat alternatives…

A page from the Change4Life booklet given to parents in England and Wales

A page from the Change4Life booklet given to parents in England and Wales

The leaflet, from the government funded National Health Service’s Change4Life campaign, advices parents to sign up for a series of “Smart Swaps” which include:

- swapping full-fat milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed (reduced fat) milk

- swapping butter for low-fat butter or spreads

- swapping full-fat cheese for reduced-fat cheese

It also has a section on saturated vs unsaturated fats (where saturated fats are inevitably described as “bad fats”).

Here are a few more snippets:

- “Chilli: use leaner mince to reduce the saturated fat content. Or try it vegetarian-style for a change by adding beans, pulses and vegetables instead of mince.”

- “Mashed potato: use reduced-fat spread instead of butter, and 1% fat milk or skimmed milk instead of whole or semi-skimmed milk.”

- “Mayonnaise can be really high in saturated fat. It can turn a healthy looking meal like a salad into a less healthy one in just a couple of dollops! Keep an eye on the salad dressings too – try using low fat options, or using less than usual.”

In fairness, the leaflet also has a section on “Smart Swaps” to reduce sugar (although they mainly involve using sugar alternatives to soft drinks) but seems oblivious to the fact that its low-fat suggestions will be having precisely the opposite effect.

No doubt this leaflet is well-intentioned, but is it really still acceptable for governments to be giving out this kind of advice advocating low-fat products?

See more at the Change4Life website

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