Why listening to a health charity may be hazardous to your health

After 15 years of allowing food producers to put a distinguishing red check mark on foods it deemed nutritionally beneficial, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada announced this week it will shutter the Health Check™ Program.   Your Working Girl anticipates we will be a healthier nation for it.

Heart and Stroke bills Health Check as “one important way it helps Canadians eat well.”

Many have long expressed outrage at the national charity for ‘healthy-checking’  foods with high sodium/high sugar content.  Doctors and dieticians have criticized it for years to no avail.

One of its most impassioned critics, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa said the Foundation “should be ashamed” of its endorsement of products such as SunRype Fruit Source Bites.  In a YouTube video that’s received close to 89,000 views, he slammed Heart and Stroke for giving a Health Check to a product that was “as close to eating pure sugar as a product can get.”

CBC reported SunRype paid close to $20,000 for the use of the Health Check logo.

In the Globe and Mail website article by Gayle MacDonald and Carly Weeks announcing the end of the program, Heart and Stroke indicated the criticism did contribute to the decision.

But Terry Dean, Director of Health Check didn’t seem to be having any of it.  There was no mea culpa in what he had to say, unless you consider any of the following an apology to Canadians:

  • “We’re not leaving the nutrition scene at all, we’re just coming at it from a different angle.”
  • “Our current model just didn’t allow us to have the footprint that we needed.”
  • “It’s frankly tough to compete [with other similar programs] and have our message heard.”

The key flaw in the program Mr. Dean said was the inability to put the seal of approval on fruits and vegetables.

For pity’s sake.

In 2012, the Foundation reported more than $72 million in revenue.  It maintains the second of its four priorities is providing “the public with health information and education programs on preventing and managing heart disease and stroke.”

Well, here’s a big thanks (for nuthin’).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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