Nutrition and Health. The Issue is Not Food, Nor Nutrients, So Much As Processing

Carlos A. Monteiro

Orthodox teaching and practice on nutrition and health almost always focuses on nutrients, or else on foods and drinks. Thus, diets that are high in folate and in green leafy vegetables are recommended, whereas diets high in saturated fat and in full-fat milk and other dairy products are not recommended. Food guides such as the US Food Guide Pyramid are designed to encourage consumption of healthier foods, by which is usually meant those higher in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients seen as desirable.

What is generally overlooked in such approaches, which currently dominate official and other authoritative information and education programmes, and also food and nutrition public health policies, is food processing. It is now generally acknowledged that the current pandemic of obesity and related chronic diseases has as one of its important causes increased consumption of convenience including pre-prepared foods. However, the issue of food processing is largely ignored or minimised in education and information about food, nutrition and health, and also in public health policies.

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