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Registered Associate Nutritionist

Registered Associate Nutritionist

The Kardashians

I want to start this blog off by mentioning that I am a massive fan of the Kardashians. I have been watching them (including all their tv shows) since all the way back in 2007, when I was starting my career journey in Nutrition. Regardless of our opinions, the media or the public about them, there is no denying that they are a fascinating family, especially as there are always stories about them pretty much on a daily basis, whether good or bad. 

It was reported in the media a few weeks ago that one of the sisters (Khloe Kardashian) takes type 2 diabetes drugs to help aid with weight loss, however Khloe responded to the claims by posting a message stating that she credits exercise to aid with the weight loss, and dismissed the claims. Based on this I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss the Traffic Light Labelling system. So this is the other alternative to The Guideline Daily Amounts, which I discussed in my previous post which can be found here:

I personally think that looking at food labels, including all the other tips I have shared in my previous posts can help to aid with weight loss. 

The Traffic Light Labelling System was devised by the UK Government over 20 years ago. The aim was to support consumers to make healthier choices, especially as the UK was facing an obesity crisis (which we are still in as I am writing this) but also for consumers to be aware of the dangers of certain nutrients, which are sugar, saturated fat and salt. The traffic light system (unlike GDA's) uses the traffic lights process (like the traffic lights used on the roads) to make consumers aware that the item is either good, consume with caution , or do not consume this on a regular basis. This is highlighted in colours like the traffic lights:

Red- Avoid or do not consume regularly
Amber- consume with caution
Green - great for us and can be consumed on a regular basis. 

The traffic light system is actually easier than the GDA, because all we need to do is to look for the food product that has as many colours that contains the colour green on them. Ideally we would want the colour green for the nutrients saturated fat, sugar and salt, but overall the lower the amounts of these the better for us for our health. 

Fat in general is great for us, they help to provide energy, as well as to help protect our important organs, to keep us alive. However there is a particular type of fat which can cause stress for the heart and the arteries in our body. This is called saturated fat. Saturated fat can usually be found in butter, cakes, pastries, including certain oils like palm oil. We encourage consumers to instead go for items lower in saturated fat and to reduce the portion size of these, which is why the traffic light system can help with this. The traffic light system advises that any item which has more than 5 grams per 100 grams of saturated fat would be considered a high amount of that item, and this would be labelled as red. An item which has less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams would be considered as a low amount of saturated fat, and would be labelled as green. 

Salt is another nutrient which needs to be monitored, as excess salt can increase blood pressure, which can then affect heart health, as well as other pressures within the body. According to the traffic light system a food item which has more than 1.5 grams per 100 grams of salt would be considered high for that item, and would be labelled as red as a traffic light. If an item has less than 0g per 100 grams it would be labelled as green for that item. 

The traffic light label for sugar would be anything above 22 grams per 100g, and this would be labelled as red on the food label. Anything less than 5 grams per 100 grams would be labelled as green on the food packaging.  

So let us now put this into practise using a food item which I recently purchased, which is the Spanish Butter Bean Stew from the company Bol. If we have a look closely at the item we notice that this has all the colours green on there, apart from the nutrient salt, which is labelled as the colour amber. Amber means that the salt content is not low, however it is not high either, meaning that this can still be consumed but with caution. This is easier to actually decide on a healthy item, rather than calculating GDA's, and working out how much of the percentage GDA's we have left for the rest of the day. For the Traffic light label system to work, we are just aiming to make sure that the nutrients are all green ideally. 

As we can see from even looking at this product it can be challenging to look for an item which has all greens, my advice would be to try and choose items with a mixture of greens and ambers, and try to avoid items which have the mixtures of the colours reds and ambers together, as this can contain high amounts of the nutrients which I have explained. There are various food items which would usually show up as green on the traffic light system. For example a meal with a tomato base in them, vegetables, including items which has a high content of fibre, however there are many examples. 

Overall a mixture of looking at food labels, exercising and choosing healthier options can all help to aid with weight loss, and can help to avoid the use of weight loss tablets. Tablets or anything that supports with weight loss on a quick fix basis never works, and would encourage the use of a health professional (like myself) to support with a healthy lifestyle.