The industry's GDAs or the Food Standards Agency's traffic lights? I remain unimpressed by both.

The former represents a blatant attempt to bamboozle people with opaque percentages so they give up trying to understand and just keep buying the same old junk.

The latter, though well-intentioned, is crude. Its fat/sugar/salt frame of reference is too narrow to allow a balanced, holistic assessment of any foodstuff. It is pegged to current nutritional orthodoxy, and we know from past experience just how liable that is to change.

An independent research study in the US recently concluded that a low-fat diet may not be protective against either breast cancer or heart disease.

Traffic lights draw no distinction between heavily processed food (generally bad for you) and whole foods in their natural state (generally good for you). So it red-lists an alarming number of whole foods such as cheese, nuts, avocado and fatty meats, and paves the way for waves of nutritionally useless, but apparently healthy technofoods. 

Isn't it time to focus less on what we eat and concentrate more on how we eat it?

From this we will learn that societies with traditional eating habits - that means regular communal meals made from local, seasonal food, a presumption towards cooking from scratch, reasonable-sized portions, no snacking culture - manage to remain slimmer, fitter and healthier than we do. Happier, too. Unicef's lamentable finding that UK children are the least happy out of 21 industrialised countries reflects the loneliness and lack of social cohesion that arise when 'cash-rich/time-poor' families abandon time-honoured habits for serial snacking. 

Rather than encouraging us to squint at colour-coded labels, the FSA would get better results by spelling out the basic principles of healthy, happy eating. These are: (1) Get into the habit of preparing straightforward, satisfying meals from natural ingredients and enjoy taking time to eat them.

(2) Be eternally suspicious of processed food, particularly self-styled healthy-eating gimmicks. (3) Don't buy foods with ingredients that your grandparents would not have recognised.

(4) Ditch fads for a diverse diet covering major food groups.

This is advice that will stand the test of time - unlike traffic lights or GDAs.