Is it necessary to donate unhealthy products to food banks?

In the midst of a pre-Christmas campaign, the debate about the content of food donations by food banks has been rekindled. And the real question we should all ask ourselves: is it necessary to donate unhealthy products?

Eat to meet our nutritional needs, not just energy, should be our main goal. We cannot combat malnutrition by encouraging malnutrition

Noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, stroke, obesity or diabetes, kill 41 million people each year worldwide. The prevalence of these diseases, preventable through a healthy lifestyle, is directly related to poor diet. 

Despite these figures, there are people who continue to defend the argument that you can recommend eating everything in moderation. In the meantime, we live immersed in an obesogenic environment, full of ultra-processed products, very cheap and whose consumption increases the risk of death,

It's not the same to eat, it's not the same to eat

Are currently increasing and obesity rates continue to increase and are inversely proportional to the income level. People with low resources often have a nutrient-deficient diet with high intake of cheap, ultra-processed products, such as industrial pastries, pre-cooked food or sugary drinks

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So, we may be feeding on food that gives us an excess of energy, but at the same time be malnourished. Eating to meet our nutritional needs, not just energy, should be our main goal. We cannot fight malnutrition by encouraging malnutrition,

Food has no magic powers

The false appearance that consuming certain food products makes us feel happier is nothing more than an invention of marketing, in which the food industry invests a lot of money through advertising. We must not forget that people love to hear only what we want to hear, and if it makes us happy even if it is a little while, much better,

I know this is going to lift blisters, but someone has to say it; a glass of milk with sugary cocoa and cookies is, and always will be, a bad dietary choice. As rich as it is, or as happy as it makes us take it. If this mixture has any superpower, it's to malnourish us. So the arguments that try to defend their consumption, by partnering it with happiness or well-being, are of great irresponsibility,

Malnourished health

While doctors do what they can give dietary advice to people without having the right time or training for it. Our national health system remains not included in the figure of the dietitian-nutritionist in primary and hospital care. People with few resources who want to improve their diet cannot afford to pay for a private consultation with a nutritionist and this situation helps to encourage misinformation, preventing them from acquiring the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their diet.

People with few resources who want to improve their diet cannot afford to pay for a private consultation with a nutritionist and this situation helps to encourage misinformation

Good food choices depend on many factors. People know full well that it's better to cook their own food at home than to buy it pre-cooked in a supermarket. But if they can't do it for lack of time, it's very easy for them to resort to ultra-processed products that, in addition to being bought ready to consume, are usually very cheap.

The way you feed does not depend solely on the economic resources available, but is much more complex. If we want to contribute to improving people's diet, we must promote policies and measures that promote and encourage the choice of healthy foods, clearly informing consumers about the ingredients of products and controlling the advertising of ultra-processed.

zoom in Recommendations from specialists Aitor Sánchez and Lucía Martínez.

Resort to charity to solve the eating problems of people with few resources should not be the only option, but if we do better do it well. This infographic, created by dietitians-nutritionists Lucía Martínez and Aitor Sánchez, proposes healthy options if you want to donate food to food banks

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