I’m a fan of vitamin D, but…

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The breakfast cereal company Kellogg’s has been in the news this week (see here for an example). The ‘news’ is that the company is going to start adding vitamin D to some of its choice products including Rice Crispies and Coco Pops. The idea, it is claimed, is designed to counter the growing incidence of rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency) in children.

It’s easy for me (and many others) to be cynical about these sorts of initiatives. Whatever the benefits of vitamin D may be, please let us not forget what sort of ‘food’ this nutrient is being added to: nutritionally bereft fodder with added sugar and salt.

However much Kellogg’s likes to portray Rice Crispies and Coco Pops as healthy, it is my considered opinion that these ‘foods’ are not only rubbish, but hazardous to health. Adding vitamin D to them should not detract from this, I think.

Of course, not all will agree with me, Take, for instance, the view expressed by Jacqui Lowdon of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) in the item I link to above. Here it is: “…
if we can get vitamin D into food children like to eat, that’s fantastic.”

Again, this is my opinion, but I believe this stance is utterly misguided and a potential hazard to our children’s health. Using the same logic we could put vitamin D not just in rubbish breakfast cereals but in any old crap including doughnuts and biscuits and describe this as ‘fantastic’ too.

How can we explain such apparent mind-numbing idiocy?

Well, the first clue comes in a reference in the article above to the fact that a BDA survey finds that a majority paediatric dieticians are seeing more rickets in the last five years. I don’t have Kellogg’s press release, but this suggests to me that the whole vitamin D in cereal idea has been cooked up, at least in part, in conjunction with the BDA (though I might be wrong).

But if this is indeed the case, then I would not be at all surprised. And that’s because the BDA has a habit of partnering up with Kellogg’s. See this search result on the BDA’s own website for details.

Also, from the BDA’s 2010 annual report we can learn that Kellogg’s support the BDA’s Centre for Education and Development courses, and that: ‘Throughout this year, a series of articles was published in Dietetics Today in association with Kellogg’s…’

These associations could help explain why a representative of the BDA views the addition of vitamin D to foods kids like to eat (however crappy they are) as ‘fantastic’.

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