Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why not rate radishes?


    We Americans are besotted with ratings. The Internet has given us the ability to rank and review everything from motels to microwaves, from restaurants to recliners. So, why not rate Raisin Bran, ramen and radishes?
    The McDonald’s and Starbucks chains are leading the way in complying with newly unfolding provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act that will require large restaurant chains to post calorie information on their menus. Whether or not we decide to make healthier food choices as a result of having immediate access to that information remains to be seen.
    But the statistics on health and obesity in our nation are telling us that we must change or suffer the consequences of consistently poor food choices, which include everything from heart disease and diabetes to exorbitant amounts of money being spent on health care.
    Yet, change is hard and eating a healthy diet these days isn’t easy. Americans are bombarded with choices and the marketing campaigns that back them up. Short of getting a degree in nutrition, there are few ways to easily discern whether a food product is good for us—or not. Sure, we can live by rules of thumb—more vegetables and less fat. But when we choose processed foods that help us keep pace with our busy lives, we don’t get a lot of help, even from the well-meaning small print on the nutrition labels.
    Harnessing technology in pursuit of better health could help. Computers can easily analyze heaps of data—and categorize them. Today, they analyze everything from our shopping habits to phone calls.
    Compared to tracking down terrorists or engaging in digital spy wars, rating Raisin Bran, ramen and radishes and giving them one- to five-star nutrition ratings should be a piece of cake.




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