Posts Tagged ‘Obesity’

That Sugar Film

March 29, 2015

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THAT SUGAR FILM is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. THAT SUGAR FILM will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.


Damon only eats the perceived ‘healthy’ foods that are in fact laden with hidden sugars like low fat yoghurt, muesli bars, juices and cereals.


Sweet Poison – sugar, it never fully satisfies our cravings.

August 12, 2014

In the last 24 hours, I’ve drunk several cups of coffee, each one sweetened with a sugar cube. I’ve eaten a bowl of porridge sprinkled liberally with brown sugar and I’ve enjoyed on three separate occasions, a piece of my date and apple birthday cake, to which the chef tells me he added one cup of castor sugar.

This is pretty standard fare for me (birthday celebrations notwithstanding) and although occasionally I fret that my sugar intake is perhaps a little high and that I should reign it in or else risk all manner of health problems down the track, I continue to indulge my sweet tooth. Although after listening to David Gillespie present at Happiness & Its Causes 2011, I’m seriously thinking I really do need to wean myself off the white stuff.

Gillespie, a former lawyer, is the author of Sweet Poison: why sugar makes us fat, whose thesis is that sugar, or more specifically fructose (of which folk are consuming, on average, about one kilo a week), actually does much more that pack on the kilos. It also makes us physically ill and exacts a significant toll on our mental health.

What we’ve come to identify as sugar is actually a combination of two molecules: fructose and glucose, the latter an indispensable element to the body’s healthy functioning. As Gillespie explains, “The glucose half is fine. It’s more than just fine; it’s vitally necessary for us. We are machines that run on the fuel of glucose.” Indeed, all the carbohydrates we consume – and which for most of us constitute about 60 per cent of our diet (everything else is proteins and fats) – are converted to glucose.

Fructose, on the other hand, is not metabolised by us for fuel but rather converted directly to fat. As Gillespie says, “By the time we finish a glass of apple juice, the first mouthful is already circulating in our arteries as fat.” But even worse than that, fructose messes with those hormonal signals which tell us we’re full so that we keep on eating sugary, fatty foods.

Two hormones in particular are affected, the first one being insulin “which responds immediately to the presence of all carbs except fructose,” says Gillespie. “When insulin goes up, appetite goes down. So insulin tells us, ‘all right, you’ve had a meal, stop eating’. Fructose does not provoke a response from insulin and in fact, over time, it makes us resistant to the signals we do get from everything else we eat.”

Leptin is produced by our fat cells and works as our “on board fuel gauge” in that the more fat cells we have, the more leptin we produce and the less hungry we are. The problem with fructose is it “makes us resistant to that signal,” says Gillespie.

And yes, this leads to all manner of health problems including Type 2 Diabetes and its associated symptoms including lethargy, blurred vision and skin infections, and what Gillespie says is “significant damage through something called glycation”, the destruction through the excessive production of so-called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) of our skin’s elasticity which causes hardening of our arteries and brittle skin, both unmistakable signs of ageing. Gillespie also cites some biochemistry studies that have found fructose accelerates the growth of pancreatic cancer tumours.

These are just some of the physical effects. The addictive quality of fructose means it’s also a bit of a downer and that’s because of how it interferes with the balance of two feel-good hormones in the brain, dopamine and serotonin. Gillespie explains, “It significantly ramps up our dopamine (released when we anticipate pleasure) at the expense of our serotonin (released when that pleasure is delivered).” In other words, it never fully satisfies our cravings, and as anyone who’s battled an addiction knows, unfulfilled cravings are never much fun.

Article sourced from:

Gen Y’s to become Gen D (Generation Diabetes)

April 30, 2013

Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millenniums
Born: 1977-1994


A new national diabetes assessment released in 2012 reinforces a legacy of pandemic proportions being left for future generations – with one in three of today’s Gen Ys joining the ranks of ‘Generation D’ (Generation Diabetes) during their lifetime.

This report has prompted Australia’s leading research and consumer advocacy groups to join forces and demand urgent and renewed focus on this significant challenge to the Nation’s health and economy.  As an immediate priority re-commitment to the development of a formal national action plan in keeping with the United Nations Resolution no. 61/225 on diabetes is being demanded – a strategic plan which recommends countries review and strengthen critical activities to contain the growth and burden of the disease.  “Time is of the essence because unlike other developed nations, despite agreeing with these global recommendations, Australia has failed to take comprehensive action and implement change,” notes Lewis Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, Diabetes Australia.

Diabetes: the silent pandemic and its impact on Australia, launched in Canberra today, is the latest comprehensive assessment of the disease’s rapid growth and its impact on Australians. Researched and written by Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in partnership with Diabetes Australia, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Novo Nordisk – the report provides a sobering reminder that in just over a decade (by 2025), our fastest growing chronic disease, (type 2 diabetes) will triple in prevalence and affect three million Australians. A tragic prediction, especially given that type 2 diabetes is potentially preventable in a substantial proportion of people.

In addition to this dramatic growth in type 2 diabetes, the report highlights a continuing rise in the occurrence of type 1 diabetes – particularly in very young children (aged 0-4). 1   In contrast to type 2 diabetes, type 1 is unpreventable and the cause for the rise is worryingly, unknown.

Prevalence of type 1 diabetes in Australia is one of the highest in the world and is increasing by approximately three per cent annually.  The result is significantly more young children and their families are burdened with a lifelong incurable disease, requiring effective and consistent self-management to control the condition; typically multiple daily insulin injections.1    

Diabetes is an even greater issue for the Indigenous population who are three times more likely to have diabetes compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

Lead author of the report, Associate Professor Jonathan Shaw, Associate Director – Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute states: “Our future path with diabetes is very concerning.  What is critical now is for us to take urgent responsibility and act firmly and fast to contain the significant burden our younger generations and children are set to endure.

“The battle against diabetes requires concerted efforts on a number of fronts – strategies to slow down the rapidly rising number of those developing the disease and ensuring those living with diabetes are able to manage this insidious condition effectively.  We must also do everything we can to fully understand diabetes via research,” he adds.

According to the Changing Diabetes Map, which displays data on people diagnosed with diabetes in different regional areas, currently half of people with diabetes are unable to bring their blood glucose down to target levels, significantly increasing their risk of complications. Commenting on this, Lewis Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, Diabetes Australia, says: “We need sustained, nationally consistent programs to prevent, detect and manage diabetes in Australia.  While there have been many plans and strategies designed over the years, the truth is we have failed in implementing and evaluating them properly – leaving us on the brink of disaster.

“The opportunity cost of doing little to stem this pandemic situation is apparent to many  – but not adequately to those who need to take hard and firm policy decisions to create healthier schools, homes, hospitals and work places,” adds Mr Kaplan.

Mike Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation comments the burden on very young children and their families is of significant concern.  “Collaborative efforts are needed to speed up research to find a cure.  Partnerships across business, government and not-for-profits are essential to this, as well as enabling those who live with diabetes to be part of enacting change for a healthier future.”

The report highlights four priority areas:-

  • Focused, timely and integrated action – to ensure national diabetes strategies are reviewed and strengthened to reflect Australian commitments to the United Nations Resolution on diabetes.
  • Changes in policy, legislation and attitudes – to provide an environment where healthy lifestyle choices can and will be made.
  • Access to and availability of information, technologies and proven treatments for every person with diabetes, irrespective of their socio-economic background.
  • Collaborative efforts that ensure research remains at the forefront of effort to find a cure.

One person every five minutes (or 275 Australians a day) develops diabetes – a condition that can result in visual impairment, kidney disease or limb amputation. While the current estimated annual health bill for diabetes is over $6 billion (equivalent to nearly one third of the NSW health budge, this is set to increase dramatically as more people are diagnosed with the disease.1

“Prevention of type 2 diabetes is now a reality for many – but understanding how to implement the appropriate lifestyle changes for large numbers of people remains uncertain,” adds A/Prof Shaw. “Considering diabetes entirely a matter of personal responsibility will certainly fail to address this public health challenge.  A well-planned and coordinated way to reach all levels of society is now critical for the future of this country.”

For more information on Diabetes Prevention and Control look here.

Editor’s Note: Original news release can be found here.

Shaming People in the Name of Weight Loss!

March 19, 2013


When I caught a glimpse of the ‘first look’ at The Biggest Loser on Channel 10, I was horrified.

Because The Biggest Loser is now claiming to ‘break the obesity cycle in families’. Yes, this prime example of reality porn is now performing a community service. The Biggest Loser contestants this year are families. And some of those families include people under 21. The youngest is a fifteen year-old boy.


I despised The Biggest Loser before it brought children into the mix, but this has taken my antipathy to a new low.

Firstly, because no fifteen year-old child can give informed consent to being shamed and bullied on national TV. And secondly, because the disengenuity of TBL propaganda – that it is working to make our population healthier – enrages me. I don’t believe the producers of TBL give a hoot about the obesity crisis Australia.

These are the same producers who bring us Masterchef and Beauty and the Geek – let’s not pretend they are a charitable organisation. They are hosting a game show in which overweight people compete in their underwear to see who has lost the greatest amount of weight.

And it is a disgrace.

Robyn and Katie, mother and daughter team on TBL

Let’s get beyond the myth perpetrated by TBL that a fat person, by definition, cannot be healthy, happy, or have good self esteem. This, of course, is nonsense, but we’ll move on.

Let’s just look at the ways in which TBL ‘trainers’ address the weight issues of their charges.Not every fat person has an eating disorder or eats for emotional reasons. However, the contestants on TBL do have unhealthy relationships with food – relationships which make them unhappy.

Instead of receiving counselling and support, the contestants are placed on severely kilojoule restricted diets, and starved and exercised like pack animals. They are brought consistently to thresholds of extreme physical pain, and, occasionally, unconsciousness.  The trainers bully the contestants and yell at them, conveying that implicit message that fat people aren’t worthy of respect or self-esteem.

Bizarre “exercises” are included, like being buckled into harnesses and pulling a truck behind them. Truly. A truck. This isn’t exercise. This isn’t healthy. This isn’t a way to generate positive changes.

It is cruel and dehumanising and a little perverted. And it is packaged and labelled as entertainment.

TBL trainers

TBL trainers, Shannan Ponton, Michelle Bridges and ” The Commando”

And let’s not forget the weigh-in at the end of the day.

The weigh-in. Where contestants line up in their underwear and step on the scales to be told by the numbers how worthy they are. And why are they weighed in their underwear? Because it is far more titillating for the audience to see fat people in their underwear, true to The Biggest Loser’s theme of reality porn.

I cannot stop The Biggest Loser from being made, but can certainly stop my family from watching.

I strongly urge you to do the same.

The Biggest Loser isn’t going to solve the obesity crisis, but you can stop the cycle of fat shaming in your home by simply pressing a button.

*Kerri is not alone in her dismay at this latest The Biggest Loser.  She asks us to refer you to an online petition addressed to the producers of TBL here.

By Kerri Sackville
March 17, 2013

It’s official… Australia is the fifth-fattest nation on earth

November 17, 2012
Australians eat almost three times as much meat as the world average.Australians eat almost three times as much meat as the world average.

It’s no wonder that Australia is the fifth-fattest nation on earth.

A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that many Australians are consuming too much food that is high in fat and sugar and not enough vegetables or wholegrain cereals.

The report, Australia’s Food and Nutrition 2012, says that Australians exceed the world average consumption of alcohol, sweeteners, milk and animal fats.

How we consume food compared to the rest of the world.How we consume food compared to the rest of the world. Photo: Keisuke Osawa

But Australian consumption of vegetables and cereal is below the world average.

The AIHW report said that 90 per cent of people aged 16 years and over failed to eat the recommended five serves of vegetables each day.

Most adults didn’t eat enough fruit and adolescent girls failed to eat enough dairy foods or alternatives.

People in remote areas had difficulty accessing a variety of affordable healthy foods.

The report said that restaurant and takeaway meals was the highest weekly item of food expenditure for Australian households in all income groups.

In 2009-10, high-income households spent $389 on food and beverages each week, equal to 18 per cent of household expenditure.

Low income households spent $113, or 20 per cent of expenditure on food.

AIHW spokeswoman Lisa McGlynn said: “The cost of healthy foods is increasing which means that it is cheaper for some people to eat takeaway food than healthier foods.”

“It can cost less to feed a family on food from some of the fast-food outlets than it can to feed a family on some of the foods that would be considered to be appropriate and what experts recommend a family eat.’’

On average, “treats’’ or extra foods such as chips, biscuits, pastries, soft drinks and alcohol contributed 36 per cent of the energy intake for adults and 40 per cent for children.

One quarter of adults and one in 12 children aged between five and 12 years in Australia are obese.

“That’s about three million people aged over five which puts Australia fifth in the OECD countries for the proportion of the population who are obese,’’ Ms McGlynn said.
Read more:

Kids’ diet benefits whole family

July 24, 2012
At Coffs Coast Health Club we are committed to healthy individuals, families & communities.  This Sydney Morning Herald article highlights how the way we eat affects EVERYBODY.  If your child needs to lose weight it might be an ideal opportunity to think about your own eating habits.
Chicken with sesame and bok choy.Diet dish … chicken breast with bok choy. Photo: Vanessa Levis

Step One: Pull everything from your kitchen pantry and inspect the ingredient labels closely. Look for glucose, sucrose, fructose, any kind of sugar. Now, for a reality check, consider that about 4.2 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

Step Two: Open the fridge and calculate the sugar load in sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and sports drinks. Visualise the 10 teaspoons of sugar in some 600ml sugary drinks.

Step Three: Congratulate yourself. You now know almost as much as a five-year-old. That is, a five-year-old being schooled in healthy eating in a new, innovative paediatric weight management program for kids aged five to 18 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre in Sacramento, California.

The program echoes heightening concern over the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Obesity can lead to Type 2 diabetes, a chronic ailment once known as adult-onset but now increasingly seen in youths who lack access to healthy food and activity choices. Diabetes can cause heart disease, strokes, amputation and, when advanced, can bring on early death.

Already, some of the youths enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente program are pre-diabetic, with higher than normal blood pressure and high lipids levels, said Dr John Struthers, a paediatrician who helped develop the program.

Though the program is free, it’s in high demand and competitive. Families are screened before being allowed to participate.

Every 10 weeks, 20 new participants are added to the 20-week program, but not before parents sign contracts, agreeing to support their child, attend the sessions and provide healthy meal choices.

Making the program a family affair is one of the benefits that Tiffany Romano, 16, a participant since late April, most enjoys.

“I like how the family is involved and how we do activities,” said Tiffany. “We have family meetings, take family walks and learn about food together.”

When Tiffany attends weekly sessions, her father, Bryant Romano, is there to back her up. At age 50, her father said he’s been watching his health, too, and he’s shed around 21kg while accompanying his daughter.

The most surprising fact that Tiffany has learned so far, she says, is the extent to which sugar is found in processed foods, and that “low-fat” processed foods often have sugar added to fool the taste buds.

Tiffany said her goal is “to be healthy and more active”. She rises at 5am, works out, plays basketball and touch football, and has stuck to a regimen of chicken breasts, broccoli, protein drinks and salads.

According to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making modest behaviour changes such as improving food choices and upping physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week is enough to help participants lose five to seven per cent of their body weight. And that’s enough to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 per cent in people at high risk.

One of the key components of the program is a reward of sorts that the kids have to earn by coming to each session on time and demonstrating their commitment. It’s a money-clip-sized wireless physical activity tracker they wear, or pocket, to track calories spent walking, climbing stairs, running, even dancing.

Called a Fitbit, the device automatically uploads data from up to 4.5 metres away to a base station connected to a computer.

The information then goes to a website that shows the day’s activity in a pie chart that represents the past 24 hours and how much of it was spent being lightly active, fairly active, very active or sedentary.

The device appeals to the kids because it syncs to mobile phones they use to input what they ate and information about their activities. Then they, or their parents, can go online to check progress.

Read more:


Obesity is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Around the world, levels of childhood obesity have been rising for a number of reasons including a shift in diet towards increased intake of foods that are high in fat and sugars and a reduction in the amount of time spent on physical activity.

Obesity not only has significant health and social impacts, but also considerable economic impacts. According to Access Economics, in 2008, the total annual cost of obesity in Australia, including health system costs and productivity and carers costs was estimated to be around $58 billion.

In 2007, the Australian Government announced the development and promotion of healthy eating and physical activity guidelines for children. These measures will form part of the Government’s Plan for Early Childhood and Plan for Tackling Obesity. One of the main aims of the National Preventative Health Taskforce is to develop a National Obesity Strategy.

Changes over time

In 2007-08, one-quarter of all Australian children, or around 600,000 children aged 5-17, were overweight or obese, up four percentage points from 1995. The obesity rate for children increased from 5% in 1995 to 8% in 2007-08 (graph 11.9).

11.9 CHILDRENS BODY MASS INDEX – 1995, 2007-08(a)
Graph: 11.9 CHILDRENS BODY MASS INDEX – 1995, 2007–08(a)

Age and sex

Between 1995 and 2007-08 there was a significant increase in the proportion of boys who were obese. The rate of obesity for boys aged 5-17 years doubled from 5% in 1995 to 10% in 2007-08. Increases in obesity occurred for younger and older boys. For boys aged 5-12 years, 8% were obese, up from 4% in 1995. Of boys aged 13-17 years, 13% were obese, up from 6% in 1995.

While for boys there were significant increases in obesity, there were no such increases for girls. The obesity rate for girls aged 5-17 remained unchanged at 6%. While the obesity rate for girls did not change from 1995 to 2007-08, the proportion of girls who were overweight increased. The increase occurred for girls aged 13-17 years, up from 12% in 1995 to 20% in 2007-08. In contrast, there was no change for younger girls aged 5-12 years, with the overweight rate remaining constant at 17% in both time periods.

Socio-economic factors

The Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) Index of Disadvantage summarises various attributes such as income, unemployment and educational attainment of an area in which people live. Children living in the areas of greatest relative disadvantage had more than double the rate of obesity (28%) of children living in areas with the lowest relative disadvantage (13%). Aside from socio-economic differences between areas in terms of education, income and employment, some areas may also offer greater opportunities for physical activity and greater access to healthy food options.

Physical activity

The 2004 Australia’s Physical Activity Recommendations for Children suggest that children aged 5-18 years need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. The following section looks at physical activity using results from two ABS surveys. The 2006 Children’s Participation in Culture and Leisure Activities Survey collected information on the participation of children aged 5-14 years in organised sports and informal sports during the 12 months prior to interview. It provides insight into some of the physical activities in which children aged 5-14 are participating. The 2007-08 National Health Survey collected information for children aged 15-17 only.


Children aged 5-14 years

In 2006, 63% of children had played sport which had been organised by a school, club or association outside of school hours, an increase from 59% in 2000. Over the six year period, girls’ participation in organised sport rose by six percentage points from 52% to 58%, compared with three percentage points for boys from 66% to 69%. While the participation rates of about 45% were similar for children aged 5 years, by 13 years of age the participation rate for boys was 73% and for girls was 55%. The highest rate of participation for boys was at 10 years (77%), while for girls it was 9 years (67%) (graph 11.10).

Children who did participate were spending 6 hours per fortnight on average on organised sport participation. Swimming and outdoor soccer were the most popular sports. The survey also collected information on informal sports, such as bike riding, rollerblading and skateboarding, to get some indication of children’s involvement in informal physical activity. The survey found that around two thirds of children had been bike riding and a quarter had been skateboarding or rollerblading in the previous two weeks. The amount of time spent on these informal activities was the same as organised sport participation, with an average of 6 hours per fortnight (graph 11.10).

Children aged 15-17 years

In 2007-08 over three-quarters of children aged 15-17 took part in sport or recreational exercise in the two weeks prior to the National Health Survey. However, just under one quarter said that they either did no exercise, or very low amounts during the two week period.

Sedentary lifestyles

According to the Department of Health and Ageing Australia’s Physical Activity recommendations for children, children who do not get enough physical activity and spend significant amounts of time in sedentary states increase their likelihood of poor fitness, raised cholesterol and being overweight in adulthood. Related research has also shown that the incidence of obesity is highest among children who watch TV for long periods each day, compared with children who watch TV for a smaller amount of time each day. Australian guidelines recommend that children should not spend more than two hours a day watching TV, playing computer games or using other electronic media for entertainment.


In 2006, almost all children aged 5-14 had watched television, videos or DVDs during the two-week period of the survey and almost two-thirds had played electronic or computer games. Around 45% of children who watched television, videos or DVDs, and 10% of children who played electronic or computer games, did so for 20 hours or more over the fortnight period. Overall, the average amount of time spent on these two activities by most children averaged across a two-week period, was 2 hours per day (graph 11.10).

Data sources and definitions

The information in this article comes from the 2007-08 NHS and 2006 Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities Survey (4901.0). Physical activity results from these surveys may not represent total physical activity, since the surveys only cover sport organised by a school, club or association which has been played outside of school hours. The article looks at children aged 5-17 years unless stated otherwise. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated from measured height and weight information (using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m)). Height and weight were measured for children in the 2007-08 NHS. Overweight and obesity are defined according to the BMI scores, indicating a relationship between height and weight. There are BMI cutoffs for children which are based on the definitions of adult overweight and obesity adjusted to specific age and sex categories for children. For a detailed list of the cutoffs used to calculate BMI for children, please see the ABS National Health Survey Users’ Guide(4363.0.55.001).


World Health Organisation Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, Overweight and Obesity, viewed 6 July 2009.

Access Economics, The Cost of Obesity, Canberra, 2008.

Department of Health and Ageing, Early Childhood Nutrition, viewed 15 June 2009.

Australian Health Ministers Communique, Delivering Results, 18 April 2008.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Making Progress, Canberra, 2008.

King, T et al. 2005, ‘Weight and place; a multilevel cross sectional survey of area-level disadvantage and overweight and obesity in Australia‘ International Journal of Obesity, viewed 5 August 2009.

ABS Australian Social Trends, (4102.0) September 2009.

Department of Health and Ageing, Australia’s Physical Activity Recommendations for children, viewed 21 May 2009.