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09.01.2016 Feature Article

Merchants of False Health Claims - Part 2

Merchants of False Health Claims - Part 2
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In part one of this article, I ended on the note that because lay citizens do not have the knowledge and capacity to determine false commercial claims when it comes to products and services marketed to them, we must depend on government and civil society agents to look out for our health and wellbeing. The system for public safety and promotion is not perfect but it works, if system for regulation and mitigation works. And it does work to an extent in this country. However, there are times when we are caught ball watching. That is when we the citizens should be equipped with some basic knowledge that helps us to survive when the system is fails systematically or deliberately.

Now I will take one example of a product on the market which I believe consumers should be aware of regarding the claims it makes and to advice themselves accordingly. In recent times, you may have come across advertising and marketing of quail eggs in the supermarkets or at the mall near you. A couple of months back when I saw this, I picked up the leaflet provided by the sales person and was surprised by the claims about the health benefits of quail eggs. According to the leaflet, quail eggs 'FIGHTS' a list of non-communicable and infectious diseases. Immediately, my antenna's went up because once you have a product that has a long list of benefits (which is highly unusual), usually the claims are –you are right- TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. From this leaflet, I could count at least nineteen diseases or symptoms, including ulcers, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, gout, and tuberculosis. Now would it not be very interesting if these were actually true? But let's hold on about the validity of the claims which I will return to shortly. The company also claims quail eggs contains good cholesterol? The challenge with this claim is not difficult to notice. Almost every animal food contains some amount of cholesterol in varying amounts. A couple of years ago, we were all worried that eating eggs and especially the yolk increases your cholesterol. Well, the news is that the science does not support this ( http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/ ). Now there is evidence that it not only the amount of cholesterol in the food that you eat but also how much saturated fat. In my opinion, anyone selling you a product and pointing out its content of cholesterol as a claim, is probably after something other than your health. That something may just be a big part of your pay cheque. Secondly, good cholesterol is made by your body. It is not eaten. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Thirdly, there is a long list of nutrients listed on the leaflet, suggesting that once you eat the eggs, you acquire all these nutrients. First let's deal with the simplest aspect. There are so many foods that contain these nutrients. So eating quails to get these nutrients is a choice you are making. However, why must that choice cost you an arm and a leg? In other words, is quail eggs any better than the chicken or guinea fowl eggs on the local market? Perhaps a comparison is needed. So below I take the US Department of Agriculture nutrient database and compare raw whole eggs for chicken and quails. I highlighted values in red where they are higher and not good, compared to the other, and green where they are higher but better, compared to the other. I hope you will notice that there is practically no difference between the two types of eggs and that specifically in the case of quail eggs, weight-for-weight, they have higher cholesterol. Watch out for part three for more on this issue.

Nutrient quail egg regular chicken egg
Value per 100 g Value per 100 g
Water 74.35 76.15
Energy 158 143
Protein 13.05 12.56
Total lipid (fat) 11.09 9.51
Carbohydrate, by difference 0.41 0.72
Fiber, total dietary 0 0
Sugars, total 0.4 0.37

Minerals

Calcium, Ca 64 56
Iron, Fe 3.65 1.75
Magnesium, Mg 13 12
Phosphorus, P 226 198
Potassium, K 132 138
Sodium, Na 141 142
Zinc, Zn 1.47 1.29

Vitamins

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 0 0
Thiamin 0.13 0.04
Riboflavin 0.79 0.457
Niacin 0.15 0.075
Vitamin B-6 0.15 0.17
Folate, DFE 66 47
Vitamin B-12 1.58 0.89
Vitamin A, RAE 156 160
Vitamin A, IU 543 540
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.08 1.05
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 1.4 2
Vitamin D 55 82
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.3 0.3

Lipids

Fatty acids, total saturated 3.557 3.126
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 4.324 3.658
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 1.324 1.911
Cholesterol 844 0.038

Richmond Aryeetey
Richmond Aryeetey, © 2016

The author has 7 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: RichmondAryeetey

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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