Tuesday 9 January 2018
When I first posted this article three years ago it gained little exposure. It was the same with cigarettes when they were first suspected of having cancerous ingredients, and we all know how that ended. Now the medical profession are trying, once again, to have a tax on sugary drinks instigated.
I have no doubt that sugar, fat and salt will follow the tobacco path and companies will face class actions in the future. But not before the obsession of capitalism’s greed has squeezed its last grasp from the unfortunates it harms.
It will sing capitalism’s voice of “choice” but eventually capitalism’s murderous ways will way to a greater knowledge.
”How About a Fat Policy That Saves Lives and Money?”
When in opposition political parties are often accused of having no policies. Remember Tony Abbott’s four years of constant negativity to everything? The NO approach to everything. Oppositions assume that it’s not in their best interests to reveal policy because incumbent Governments will steal them. I’m not sure that I subscribe to that theory.
So they generally reveal their policies during an election campaign. The last one was an exception. Abbott revealed a Paid Parental Leave scheme and the others were disclosed after he achieved victory. They were of course a deception that had their genesis in multiple lies.
One of these policies is a fee (a tax) on visits to the doctor. Two dollars of a proposed seven dollar goes to the doctor and five dollars into a research fund to cure diseases. All very noble you might say. Well except its mainly the old who are the most ill. What if the Labor Party countered that with a policy that addresses the health problems of today. It could be very simple with little cost attached. No need for a forty billion dollar fund. The only problem is one of ideology. The current conservatives proposal has nothing to do with lowering the
Cost of health but is purely a philosophical budgetary statement.
FAT, SUGAR and SALT are the major contributors to obesity heart disease and many other health problems. These three ingredients kill more people than tobacco and alcohol combined. All three are found in fast and packaged food. In Australia obesity has reached epidemic proportions.
Governments continually tell us about the spiralling costs of our health system and not to far into the future health will take up the largest percentage of the budget.If science tells us that these three ingredients are killing us at an alarming rate you would think it was only a matter of common sense to at least reduce the amount we digest.
Just to digress I recently said to my daughter when one of her children was drinking a can of soft drink:
”Would you sit the child down and pore 13 teaspoons of sugar into his mouth?”
“Of course not,” she answered.
“That’s the amount of sugar in the can,” I responded.
A quote of mine ( years old now) that leads into my argument:
“It is only when the health bill of this nation reaches unaffordable proportions that the government will legislate for a reduction in the amount of salt, fat and sugar in processed and fast foods. But the conservatives will probably still oppose it on the basis of freedom of choice.”
The Lancet in its latest publication reported on the “Most comprehensive global study to date shows obesity rates climbing worldwide.”
Here are some comments from the report:
The authors warn that the study presents a worrying picture of substantial rises in obesity rates across the world and say that concerted action is urgently needed to reverse this trend.
In high-income countries, some of the highest increases in adult obesity prevalence have been in the USA (where roughly a third of the adult population are obese), Australia (where 28% of men and 30% of women are obese), and the UK (where around a quarter of the adult population are obese).
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in childhood has increased remarkably in developed countries, from 17% in 1980 to 24% in 2013 in boys and from 16% to 23% in girls. Similarly, in developing countries, rates have risen from roughly 8% to 13% in both boys and girls over the three decades.
There can be no doubting that the science is saying that the intake of these substances needs to be dramatically reduced. That concerted action needs to be taken now.
Imagine if the Labor Party or The Greens countered the Conservatives suggestion of a forty billion dollar fund by saying it isn’t necessary.
We propose, because we believe we have a duty of care of our people, to regulate the amount of sugar, salt and fat that is inflicted on the community in processed and fast foods. We don’t propose an immediate reduction but rather a gradual withdrawal to reasonable limits, as advised by science, over a five-year period. This will reduce the obesity and the mortality it brings with it. And with it reduce the pressure on our health system. We cannot idly stand by while companies destroy the health of our nation and particularly that of our children who if the current trends continue will have shorter life expectancy than their parents.
The objections of course would be twofold. One would be from the conservatives who would argue that there is too much regulation already and it takes away freedom of choice. What is wrong with regulation if it serves the common good by making people healthier. I struggle to think of a part of my life that isn’t regulated be it crossing the road with traffic lights, building a house, using a credit card or driving a car. There are literally thousands of regulations that I have to obey.
Two of course is the industries that profit from obesity. The companies that promote the consumption of salt, sugar and fat. It’s a capitalistic profit argument versus the health of people. My point though is that if these substances were withdrawn over a period of time consumption wouldn’t necessarily decline because people would adjust to taste. Voluntary withdrawal is not likely to work.
Therefore, it is a political problem that requires a political solution with government willing to show leadership on behalf of the people. Government simply cannot afford to hide from the science as it has with climate change.
The report interestingly doesn’t talk about reduction by regulation in the way I have, seemingly because it sees the wall of capitalistic intervention as being to high although Professor Klim McPherson from Oxford University in the UK makes this observation, “An appropriate rebalancing of the primal needs of humans with food availability is essential, which would entail curtailing many aspects of production and marketing for food industries
Obesity in Australia
Australia is today ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
Here is a round-up of Australian obesity facts & figures. Of great concern is the health consequence to Indigenous Australians, who are today twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be obese and are ranked the fourth-highest population in the world that is likely to suffer from type-2 diabetes.
Fourteen million Australians are overweight or obese.
More than five million Australians are obese .
If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2025, close to 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.
Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.
Obesity has become the single biggest threat to public health in Australia.
On the basis of present trends we can predict that by the time they reach the age of 20 our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than earlier generations simply because of obesity.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.9 times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to be obese.
More than 900,000 Australians suffer from diabetes.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have the fourth highest rate of Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM) in the world and are 1.9 times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to be obese.
Australians reporting heart, stroke and vascular diseases aged 15 years and over were much more likely to be classified as overweight or obese than those without heart stroke and vascular disease (65% compared with 51%).
Health disorders in children like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea can be directly attributed to childhood obesity.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) account for approximately quarter of the burden of disease in Australia, and just under two-thirds of all deaths. These three diseases often occur together and share risk factors, such as physical inactivity, overweight and obesity and high blood pressure.
My thought for the day
“40% of Australians had visited a McDonald’s outlet in the past 14 days.”
I have never eaten at a McDonald’s franchise