Energy-dense foods and cancer
Another story in our series that highlights some of the 'history of cancer' - here the story looks back at the WCRF report of last year and highlights the problem of Energy-dense foods - there has been little movement legistlatively - even around food labelling - on this in the intervening year.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) expert report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer, released in November 2007, 3rd recommendation recommends that in order to reduce our risk of getting a range of cancers we should seek to:
Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
These types of foods are often the ones that are most highly advertised and also form part of the corporate food world's biggest dollar making brands with promotion often aimed at children and young people.
The WCRF expert panel found that excessive consumption of energy-dense foods and sugary drinks increase the risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity. This, in turn, increases our risk of a range of cancers, including bowel cancer and breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women.
It can be difficult to control how much energy you are consuming if you eat a lot of energy-dense foods because you only need to eat a small amount to take in a lot of calories.
On the other hand, foods low in energy density are high in water and dietary fibre. These foods help us feel fuller for a longer time. They are a healthier choice for weight maintenance and probably help us avoid weight gain and obesity.
Where we store the extra weight in the body also affects cancer risk. It is known that excess fat around the waist can be particularly harmful as this may increase risk to bowel cancer.
The recommendation of WCRF is therefore: Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
The public health goals, which are for populations and are therefore principally for health professionals, are:
·Average energy density of diets to be lowered towards 125 kcal per 100 g
·Population average consumption of sugary drinks to be halved every 10 years
The personal recommendations, meant for people, as communities, families and individuals, are:
- Consume energy-dense foods sparingly
- Avoid sugary drinks
- Consume “fast foods” sparingly, if at all