Junkfood Science: “Eggsperts” ban advertising for eggs!

June 20, 2007

“Eggsperts” ban advertising for eggs!

Britains awoke this morning to news that their government has deemed their breakfast staple — the egg — as not providing a balanced diet and not proper “healthy” eating.

The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC), which vets television advertisements before they can be aired, banned the rebroadcasting of famous egg advertisements filmed in 1957 featuring popular comedian Tony Hancock to mark the 50th anniversary of the Egg Information Service, saying they breached current Ofcom rules to promote a varied diet:

Egg ad ban 'cracked'

One of Britain's most famous advertising slogans has been banned - for breaching health guidelines, it was reported today. “Go To Work on an Egg" was reputedly coined by the novelist Fay Wheldon and helped make the boiled egg a staple of the English breakfast. TV adverts used the comedian Tony Hancock - and advertisers hoped to broadcast the original ads to mark 50 years since the launch of the campaign.

But, according to The Times, the Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre has banned its revival. The centre claims an egg does not provide a balanced diet....A spokesman for BACC said: “Eating eggs every day goes against what is now the generally accepted advice of a varied diet. We therefore could not approve the ads for broadcast."

[You can watch these old advertisements on U-Tube at the link above. They are delightful glimpses into English life and humor from half a century ago.]

This latest example of the absurdity of government dietary guidelines and our culture of nannies telling people what they believe is best has set off a firestorm of protest. This world has become “inhabited and run by people who have had their common sense and rationality bred out of them,” said one Brit. “What is the next plot they will hatch? It’s time for all of us to rise up as one and say “Enough!”

Ms. Wheldon told The Times she thought that ruling was “absurd” and that “we seem to have been tainted by all of the health and safety laws.”

Given the health hazards at most workplaces, perhaps the government should be advising: “Don't go to work at all!”

The most common misconception among many of those creating these “healthy eating” rules here, too, is the belief that every individual food item or single meal must meet some arbitrary dietary guideline (such as for fat or sugar), rather than that a nutritious diet is balanced by a range of food eaten over a period of time. Just seeing an egg, or some other food deemed “bad” for us, it’s believed, will prompt people to just eat that food and nothing else.

Nutrition research doesn’t support any fears that eggs can’t be part of a healthy diet. For growing children, women of childbearing age and the elderly, they are an especially important source of quality protein and vast array of nutrients in a form that’s easy to digest, inexpensive and easy to cook.

The Egg Nutrition Council goes so far as to call eggs nature’s "functional food," with its omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linolenic acid, and vitamins E, D, K and Bs. They talk of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs and emerging research on its benefits for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts, reducing plaque formation in coronary arteries, stroke, cancers. The choline in eggs is used in nerve cell transmission and plays a role in brain development, memory and Alzheimer’s disease, they say. Of course, like all good food - bad food beliefs, they can stretch the science, too.

Because of ill-founded fears created during the 1970s about egg yolks as raising risks for heart disease, many older people cut their egg consumption — women by 46% and men by 29% between 1977 and 1996, according Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut. Yet, “such restrictions may cause nutritional shortfalls,” Dr. Fernandez said. “Many older individuals lack the nutritional balance that is required for optimal health because they are following inappropriate risk reduction interventions.”

A surprising number of people today have still not gotten the message that no research has supported the need to restrict eggs or dietary cholesterol in healthy people. Among the most recent studies was one published in the Journal of Nutrition which showed that even eating three eggs a day does not raise heart disease "risk factors," the origins of dietary cholesterol fears, for healthy elderly people. Even the American Heart Association finally dropped its recommendations in 2002 to limit the number of egg yolks people consume.

Yet fears of dietary fat and cholesterol as being dangerous continue today, even though the hypothesis was shown to be incorrect long ago. “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along,” said Ancel Keys Ph.D., who led the Seven Countries Study in the 1950s. Over the years, variations of the cholesterol scare have emerged as each one falls apart under scientific scrutiny, according to Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, M.D.:”

So the hypothesis quietly altered, from cholesterol in the diet to saturated fat in the diet...[then] it is not saturated fat ...it’s the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat that is critical. Or is it the consumption of monounsaturated fats, or a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, or an excess of omega-6? Take your pick....Hugely complicated explanations are formulated, but they all fall apart under scrutiny. This may all seem incredible, such has been the level of anti-fat propaganda, but it is true. ...there is not one scrap of direct evidence.

Were these old commercials giving people incorrect information or advice that wouldn’t benefit people today? Far from it. The simple, common sense slogans of this old post-war campaign were: “Eggs are cheap,” “Eggs are easy” and “Eggs are full of protein.”

All true.

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