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'NEEDNT' list provides food for thought

Published: 6:58AM Friday February 24, 2012 Source: ONE News

A list of non-essential foods has been released in an effort to curb the country's ever-expanding waistline.

Forty-nine foods made it onto the no-no list, compiled by University of Otago researchers and entitled 'NEEDNT' foods.

The list has been published in the New Zealand Medical Journal as a reference for health professionals working with obese or overweight people wanting to slim down.

Lead researcher Jane Elmslie said the purpose of the list was to describe a group of foods which are non-essential, energy dense and nutritionally deficient.

"That means that to remain healthy, we never need to eat any of them," said Dr Elmslie.

The list differs to others in that it is "black and white" and not just another list of high calorie foods.

While some of the usual suspects such as ice cream, chocolate and doughnuts made the NEEDNT group, also in the spotlight are some common foods that people might have thought were healthy.

University researchers deemed fruit juice, muesli bars, jam and the kiwi staple Milo as questionable.

"I think it's misleading for people to think that muesli bars are healthy and that people can eat as many as they want without any consequences in terms of their weight," Elmslie said.

She said some muesli bars and popular hot drink powders are high in sugar and many people tend to overload on them.

"For some people it may be that they do have to avoid those foods, because there are some people in the population who find moderating their intake of certain foods very difficult."

She said an overwhelming amount of advice can be confusing and contradictory, and this list is designed to provide straight answers. 

The NEEDNT list is aimed at obese people for therapeutic use in consultation with a medical practitioner, she said. It is not a public health intervention.

The list was compiled from number of sources, including the National Heart Foundation, Diabetes New Zealand and Canterbury District Health Board.

The authors say that with 63% of New Zealanders now either obese or overweight there is an urgent need for new strategies or guidelines to deal with the growing health issue, and the NEEDNT list is one possible approach.

Statistics from the 2008/09 Adult Nutrition Survey by the Ministry of Health found that there had been a 10.7% increase in obesity in males from 1997, and a 7.2% increase in female obesity for the same period.

The authors intend carrying out further research to examine the impact of the NEEDNT list on overweight or obese adults who want to lose weight.

The complete NEEDNT list and what to replace them with (* means stop eating entirely):

1. Alcoholic drinks, replace with water/diet soft drinks
2. Biscuits *
3. Butter, lard, dripping or similar fat (used as a spread or in baking/cooking etc,) replace with lite margarine or similar spread or omit
4. Cakes *
5. Chocolate *
6. Coconut cream, replace with lite coconut milk/coconut flavoured lite evaporated milk
7. Condensed milk *
8. Cordial, replace with water/sugar free cordial
9. Corn chips *
10. Cream (including crème fraiche), replace with natural yoghurt (or flavoured yoghurt depending on use)
11. Crisps (including vegetable crisps) *
12. Desserts/puddings *
13. Doughnuts *
14. Drinking Chocolate, Milo etc, replace with cocoa plus artificial sweetener
15. Energy drinks, replace with water
16. Flavoured milk/milkshakes, replace with trim, calcitrim or lite blue milk
17. Fruit tinned in syrup (even lite syrup!), replace with fruit tinned in juice/artificially sweetened
18. Fried food, replace with boiled, grilled or baked food
19. Frozen yoghurt, replace with ordinary yoghurt
20. Fruit juice (except tomato juice and unsweetened blackcurrant juice), replace with fresh fruit
21. Glucose, replace with artificial sweetener
22. High fat crackers, replace with lower fat crackers
23. Honey *
24. Hot chips *
25. Ice cream *
26. Jam
27. Marmalade *
28. Mayonnaise, replace with lite mayonnaise
29. Muesli bars *
30. Muffins *
31. Nuts roasted in fat or oil, replace with dry roasted or raw nuts
32. Pastries *
33. Pies *
34. Popcorn with butter or oil, replace with air popped popcorn
35. Quiches, replace with crust-less quiches
36. Reduced cream, replace with natural yoghurt
37. Regular luncheon sausage, replace with low fat luncheon sausage
38. Regular powdered drinks, replace with water/diet/sugar free powdered drinks
39. Regular salami, replace with low fat salami
40. Regular sausages, replace with low fat sausages
41. Regular soft drinks, replace with water/diet soft drinks
42. Rollups, replace with fresh fruit
43. Sour cream, replace with natural yoghurt
44. Sugar (added to anything including drinks, baking, cooking etc.), replace with artificial sweetener
45. Sweets/lollies *
46. Syrups such as golden syrup, treacle, maple syrup, replace with artificial sweetener
47. Toasted muesli and any other breakfast cereal with greater than or equal to 15g sugar per 100g cereal,
 replace with Breakfast cereal with <15g sugar per 100g cereal, > 6g fibre per 100g cereal and <5g fat per 100g cereal (or <10 g fat per 100g  cereal if cereal contains nuts and seeds)
48. Whole milk, replace with trim, calcitrim or lite blue milk
49. Yoghurt type products with greater than or equal to 10g sugar per 100g yoghurt, replace with yoghurt (not more than one a day)