The Healthier Choice scheme promoted by the Health Promotion Board is a familiar part of the food and drinks market. Its trademark red pyramid label now applies to 3,500 products - a 10-fold increase since its 2001 launch. But the question is what constitutes healthy choice in the first place. It is a pertinent issue, given that the label can be found even on ice creams, soft drinks and frozen french fries. Such items would not appear to be healthy choices, let alone healthier options.
Although only one in five food products bears the Healthier Choice label, it is worth pondering whether the criteria for inclusion should be tightened to exclude items that may not be healthy choices at all. That way, consumers would be clearer about their choices. Admittedly, any classification system would have to grapple with what is healthy. That is where the HPB's judgment, based on scientific evidence, would make a difference to members of the public who may not possess sufficient knowledge to be discriminating in their purchases.
However, there hardly is any excuse these days for the layman to be unaware of just how important moderation is when consuming food and drinks that can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart problems. The information is out there in the public sphere and has become a part of everyday conversations among families and beyond. The trouble is that many do not link their food choices and cravings to the real distress that bad health can bring them. Instead, they might take a cavalier attitude that could become habitual.
Being health-conscious does not mean being austere. What must be cultivated are informed food choices and a penchant for a balanced diet. Parents who transmit these values to their children give them a real leg-up in life. As consumers, they will then be able to distinguish wholesome food from what could be downright unhealthy.