Red Light, Green Light: Bad Food, Good Food

A simplified color-coding system represents the latest attempt to affect consumers’ food choices. However, it’s unlikely that such a system will be accepted beyond individual institutions or city governments.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What’s the Latest Development?

New York City’s latest attempt to control the food choices of its citizens by instituting a ban on large sodas characterizes one side of the ongoing war to get consumers to become more mindful about their food intake.  However, in an attempt to find a middle ground between Big Brother-style restrictions and laissez-faire (“laissez-manger”?) consumption, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital released data indicating that a simplified color-coding system applied to foods and beverages resulted in measurable changes in purchases during a six-month period. This system used stoplight colors (red = bad, yellow = caution, green = good) to provide information to hospital cafeteria workers about the nutritional and caloric values of the items they bought.

What’s the Big Idea?

Officials have long known that by using tactics commonly employed by food marketers, they can improve overall public health while providing customers with an illusion of control over their choices. Unfortunately, not all of these strategies have gone over well with the food industry or federal legislators, and a system such as Mass General’s would most likely never make it out of committee. That said, programs like these represent a kinder, gentler approach to fighting obesity and its complications by putting faith in people’s ability to make better decisions for themselves.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

The mystery of Jesus’ brother gets even weirder

The controversy over whether Jesus had any siblings is reignited after an amazing new discovery of an ancient text.

Jesus and James. Unknown painter. Possibly 14th century.
Politics & Current Affairs
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less