Thursday, 15 November 2012

Shopping, Snake Oil and Science

Welcome to my new blog.
When we visit a supermarket we have lots to contend with. Too many options fox and bewilder us. Our brains didn’t evolve in a world of garish packaging and 57 varieties of tinned soup.
We are also bombarded with health related marketing. No longer can we just buy food the family enjoys - we are now urged to buy things that contain vitamins and minerals; omegas and unsaturates; prebiotics and probiotics. We are constantly told that foods are healthy or unhealthy, virtuous or sinful. Meanwhile the package contents are listed in letters no bigger than an ant’s thorax. 
Our poor brains struggle to make sense of all this information while dealing with interference – a child making a dash for freedom, someone offering us samples of stuffed olives or just our inner selves, wishing we hadn’t come shopping just before lunch.
In the next aisle there are little jars of supplements, each one offering to assuage our guilt if the food in the trolley is not exclusively “healthy”. Not to mention the shower gel with added vitamins, the hand gel with anti-bacterial oils and the miracle-working face creams.
The purpose of this blog is to examine some of these health-giving claims. What is the scientific evidence behind them? Are they backed by established facts or are they just myth and marketing. And are we wasting good money - believing promises that will not be met?

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