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Obesity

Analysis and Comment (148)

Local communities can support healthy eating and active lifestyles in a range of settings. Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Big junk vs people power: how we can fix our collective weight problem

Over the past three decades, the Australasia region has outpaced other regions of the world with the largest absolute increase in adult obesity. Poor diet and high body mass index have overtaken tobacco…
Australia tops the world for physical activity-friendly built environments but ranks second last for levels of children’s activity. drpavlof/Flickr

Australia vying to be world champion of inactivity

If we could go back 100 years in a time machine, what would kids be like? They’d be shorter, leaner, probably dirtier and less well-fed — but would they be fitter? It turns out we actually have a beautiful…
If you’re born underweight, like this little baby on the left, it can make a world of difference to your lifelong health. Menzies Health

Australia’s 7 Up: the revealing study tracking babies to adults

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Too much fat is not good. Human Genome wall for SC99

Obesity takes patients one step closer to liver cancer

Liver cancer is one of the most deadly diseases in the world with around 700,000 patients being diagnosed and more than 600,000 patients dying of the disease annually, according to the American Cancer…
Ideally lollies, biscuits, sugar-sweetened drinks, potato crisps and processed meats will never appear in your shopping trolley. Matt/Flickr

Health Check: five foods to always avoid at the supermarket

Want to stack the nutrition odds in your favour? The key is good food so here are five things to never let into your shopping trolley: lollies, biscuits, sugar-sweetened drinks, potato crisps and processed…
Temptation is everywhere. Vivian Viola

Losing weight might make you healthier but not happier

Supermodel Kate Moss' quip that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” captured the sense in society that being thin is the recipe for happiness. Obesity causes a range of health problems, including…
The average Australian adult gains 0.416 kg a year, so staying weight-neutral is a major accomplishment. TaraPatta/Shutterstock

Weighty matters: why GPs shouldn’t be afraid of the scales

If you’re an adult and live in Australia, you’re more likely to be overweight or obese than not: 63% and 37% respectively. This excess weight is associated with increased premature death and disease, and…
A good diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding the risk factors for many chronic diseases. Rusty Stewart/Flickr

Healthy start: closing the gap on Indigenous childhood obesity

We’ve recently seen some encouraging improvements in closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage: better educational outcomes, higher child immunisation rates, more health checks, and a 35% drop in the…
This Vietnamese school girl is growing up in a new era: by the time she is middle-aged, 60% of the world’s children will be living in a tropical region. UN Photo/Mark Garten

How the world is turning tropical before our eyes

Our Tropical Future: A new report on the State of the Tropics has revealed rapid changes in human and environmental health in the Earth’s tropical regions. This is the first in a four-part series about…
The health star rating system aims to provide convenient and easily understood nutritional information on food packs. eddie welker/Flickr

After three-year saga, health star rating labels finally ready to go

Assistant health minister Fiona Nash has announced that Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for food policy and regulation have signed off on the health star rating system for front-of-pack…
Scottish diabetes rates have rocketed, but there are promising signs. Tom Wang

Scotland might slowly be turning the corner on diabetes

The number of people with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled over the past two decades, with more than 3.8 million people currently affected. Around 10% of them have Type 1 diabetes, which is caused…
Eating less and exercising works for people who need to lose a little weight but not necessarily for people who’ve carried a lot of excess weight for a long time. Ed Yourdon/Flickr

How close are we to the fat-fighting drugs we need?

There will always be people extolling the virtues of eating less and moving more for weight loss. But while this may work for overweight people or the newly obese, it’s woefully inadequate for most people…
In the last three decades, obesity has increased in almost every country in the world, among adults and children alike. Great Beyond/Flickr

More than two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese

An new analysis of world population data shows the number of people across the world who are overweight or obese has grown by 28% in adults and 47% in children in the last 33 years. Among high-income countries…
Increasing portion size makes an offering more attractive, but when everyone does this in order to be competitive, all available offerings become large. Penn State/Flickr

Health check: do bigger portion sizes make you eat more?

Faced with a portion of food twice as big as what you normally consume will lead you to eat about a third more food than usual. This portion-size effect helps explain how growing serving sizes may be contributing…
A small proportion of overweight and obese people are metabolically healthy but that doesn’t mean we should become complacent about aiming for a healthy weight. Isaac Brown/Stocky Bodies

Fat and fit? There’s no such thing for most people

The idea that people can be healthy at any weight has gained credence in recent years, despite widespread evidence that obesity creates health risks. While the idea is attractive, it’s also dangerous because…
Find a healthy eating regime you can stick to. foshydog/Flickr

Health Check: what’s the best diet for weight loss?

When it comes to weight loss, there are no magic tricks that guarantee success. What works for you is likely to be different to what works for your partner, neighbour or workmate. The best advice is to…
Our changing food environment has undermined our capacity to be responsible in the first place. Shutterstock

Fat nation: why so many Australians are obese and how to fix it

In 1980 just 10% of Australian adults were obese; by 2012 this figure had risen to 25%, among the highest in the world. The food industry lobby and their friends in government would have us believe this…
The prevalence of obesity in Australia hasn’t tripled in the last 30 years because we’ve all lost personal responsibility. Flickr/confidence, comely.

Personal responsibility won’t solve Australia’s obesity problem

Almost two thirds of Australians are now overweight or obese. In fact, obesity and unhealthy diets now contribute to more disease and illness in Australia than smoking. This makes finding solutions to…
Bariatric surgery is the last-line option for weight loss. Chris J/FLickr

Explainer: the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery

You don’t need an expert to tell you obesity has become a major health problem worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates 35% of the world’s adults are overweight and 11% obese, double the rate…
Shiver me timbers. bmhkim

Shivering unlocks new way of fighting fat

Shivering is not an activity many of us enjoy. We do it because we are cold and uncomfortable. But perhaps the news that it could have some of the same benefits as moderate bouts of exercise will stop…
The World Health Organisation is considering halving its recommendation that sugars make up 10% of your diet. Flickr/happy via

Sweet enough? Separating fact from fiction in the sugar debate

Forget lemon detox diets and soup fasts, sugar-free was the fad diet choice of 2013. But while it’s wise to limit the foods and drinks you consume that contain added sugars, this doesn’t mean you need…
Being tired is linked to eating unhealthy foods that may cause weight gain. Shuttershock

Does a bad night’s sleep make you likely to overeat?

Few people would argue with the idea that sleep is good for us, but not many of us know that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain. The health benefits of sleep are extremely well-documented. It provides…
The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables soars in rural areas. Flickr/ Family O'Abé

Rural Australians are missing out on affordable fresh food

Would you pay A$9 for six mushrooms in inner-city Melbourne? Or A$4.50 for one small piece of broccoli or cauliflower in Sydney? Probably not – but this is what rural Australians are being asked to fork…
We think checkouts influence obesity but does it? Jurijus Azanovas

Hard Evidence: do supermarket checkouts make kids obese?

Your eye gets caught by the dried apples slices and pistachios but your child, sitting in the trolley, sees the Percy pig sweets. The queue is moving slowly, how well do you resist? A commentary by Deborah…
Gastric reflux is brought on by spicy and acidic food and drink, alcohol and overeating. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is gastric reflux?

If you’re prone to gastric reflux, you’ll probably be watching closely what you eat and drink during the pre-Christmas party season. You’re certainly not alone; modern, heavy eating habits and a rise in…
If we’re fit, does it matter what we weigh? Image from shutterstock.com

Viewpoints: can you be healthy at any weight?

Australians are getting heavier and, as a result, are more likely to suffer life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes. But should we be worried about a bit of excess weight…
Forget feeling guilty and do something: parents can help kids learn healthier habits. www.shutterstock.com/Aleksei Potov

Guilt relief: how families can fight childhood obesity

As a dietitian and nutritionist for more than 15 years, the most common emotion I encounter in parents is guilt. And it’s little wonder - if you’re an Australian parent, you have a one-in-four chance of…
Poster girl Beth Ditto. Dan Taylor

Fat activists on the offensive in war on obesity

Obesity is commonly regarded as one of the most significant threats to health in the developed world. It is strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and impaired mobility. Governments…
Prioritising physical activity and healthy eating is having a positive impact on childhood obesity in the United States. Korean Resource Center/Flickr

Lessons for Australia from US reversal of childhood obesity

Childhood obesity prevalence is alarmingly high in many developed countries; in Australia, one in four children is overweight or obese, while in the United States, it’s one in three. But recent American…
Swap those fries for stale bread, says Jamie. PA

Jamie Oliver blames the poor while food industry cashes in

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s characterisation of poor people eating “chips and cheese out of styrofoam containers” in front of “massive fucking TVs” doesn’t represent all poor people, working or otherwise…
Sugar rush: the new culprit du jour. Jennie Ives

Sugar hysteria won’t solve the obesity puzzle

Obesity is on the increase. And so are the numbers of theories all blaming different offenders. Culprit of the month is sugar, with researchers arguing that high levels of sugar in fizzy drinks, sweets…
The new app, Future Me, aims to show users how their weight may change over time based on their current lifestyle. Let Ideas Compete

Anti-obesity app shows users their overweight future

Curtin University researchers have developed a new obesity prevention app that shows users how they will look in future if their diet and exercise habits do not change. The app, which is currently in the…
Your fat isn’t burning: try harder. NTT Docomo

Fat breath: Japan develops a weight loss breathalyser

A Japanese research team claims to have developed a pocket-sized device that reveals if your body is burning fat in real time by measuring the amount of acetone on the breath. The prototype device is aimed…
Boxing clever - or not. Idea of banning packed school lunches goes to far. PA/Chris Radburn

Banning packed lunches is a step too far

The government wants to improve children’s diets by banning packed lunches and barring children from leaving school at lunchtime to prevent them from buying unhealthy food. School lunches are healthier…
When it comes to food we follow our parents. PA/Anthony Devlin

Time to face hard truths when it comes to obese children

We’re grappling with a rapidly increasing number of children who are obese. In the US, where a third of Americans are considered obese, a leading group of doctors have officially designated obesity as…
There’s no need to temper our efforts to address the obesity epidemic just yet. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: overweight people live longer

We’ve long known that too much excess weight increases your likelihood of dying prematurely. Or does it? A large review of the evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA…
There’s support for a causal role of carbohydrate-rich diets in the obesity epidemic but such diets also tend to be rich in calories. Felix Cohen

Have we got the science on why we’re getting fatter wrong?

An article published recently in the BMJ argues that we have been pursuing the wrong hypothesis on the causes of obesity. Along with substandard science, this wrongheadedness has apparently exacerbated…
Media stories tend to use the image of a headless fatty as a stand-in for all fat people. Stocky Bodies

Media’s faceless fatties fuel society’s growing sizeism

Stories on street harassment are popping up across the fat-o-sphere. Popular bloggers such as the Fat Heffalump are sharing their stories; and Adipositivity Project founder Substantia Jones has created…
At around 200 pages, the new Australian Dietary Guidelines aren’t easily translated into day-to-day practice. Flickr/Darren131

In the ‘O-zone’: trying to follow the Australian dietary guidelines

We’re just back from holidays. Nothing fancy, just a trip to post-flood ravaged Queensland: sun, sand, surf and every meal bar breakfast eaten out. But unfortunately, a stroll along the beach, a ramble…
Many proposed measures for curbing obesity around the work are aimed at restricting the intake sugar from soft drinks. Robert Huffstutter

Another day, another anti-obesity campaign, but will this one work?

Merely two months into the new year and we have already seen a plethora of local and international efforts aimed at curbing what appears to be the inexorable rise of obesity. Some of these initiatives…
Few recommendations have changed since 2003 but the evidence has strengthened. Image from shutterstock.com

New dietary guidelines – evidence for healthy choices more certain

After nearly four years in the making, around 55,000 research publications reviewed, nutrients modelled into food and food groups, independent expert review and several rounds of consultations, the National…
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, choose mostly unprocessed grains and cereals, cut back on salt, fat and sugar, and get more active. jamesjyu.

New Australian dietary guidelines: experts respond

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today released its updated Australian Dietary Guidelines to advise Australians about the types and amounts of foods needed to maintain a healthy…
Doctors shouldn’t be forced into policing the choices of their patients. Image from shutterstock.com

Don’t blame doctors for patients' failure to lose weight

The New South Wales Supreme Court recently awarded a morbidly obese man $364,372 in damages for developing terminal liver cancer as a consequence of his doctor’s failure to refer him for bariatric (gastric…
Some GPs are reluctant to broach the issue of weight for fear of offending their patients; others aren’t convinced by the evidence. Image from shutterstock.com

Are GPs doing enough to help patients lose weight?

Almost two-thirds (62%) of Australian adults and one fifth (21%) of children aged five to nine years are either overweight or obese. The prevalence has increased by 5% in the last decade and is strongly…
Health problems due to poor eating habits are becoming the leading cause of death and disability in the world. stu_spivack/Flickr

No place for industry in the fight against lifestyle diseases

The biggest causes of ill health in all but the very least developed countries are now non-communicable or chronic diseases. Lung cancer from smoking, obesity from an unhealthy diet and liver problems…
Too much sugar is harmful to your health but it’s not the only driver of obesity. joshbousel

Silent killer or occasional treat? Settling the debate on sugar

Forty years ago, British nutritionist John Yudkin wrote a book about sugar. Titled Pure, White and Deadly, Yudkin argued that consumption of sugar, not fat, was driving the epidemic of heart disease. But…
Coca-Cola’s business strategy is to build brand loyality and trust. Flickr/orangeacid

Coca-Cola part of the solution to obesity? Yeah right!

Coca-Cola made headlines this week with a new television advertising campaign. It begins with a voice-over: “We’d like people to come together on something that concerns all of us – obesity”. The ad then…
Fat discrimination is rife and considered completely acceptable. Shutterstock.

What does fat discrimination look like?

People who are deemed overweight or obese (as the medical terms have it) or fat (as many fat activists prefer to call their body size) suffer discrimination, prejudice and humiliation from several fronts…
Obesity, over-diagnosis, the NDIS, vaccinations and open access for genetic information were just some of the issues covered in 2012. Kylie May; shutterstock.com; Morberg; Pranjal Mahn

2012, the year that was: Health + Medicine

It promised to be a full year of reforms: pokies legislation, front-of-pack food labels and a dental system that doesn’t cost those in need an arm and a leg. But while we did see cigarette companies forced…
Obesity’s negative impact on mortality may be outweighed by other factors favourably influencing life expectancy. Isaac Brown/Stocky Bodies

Obesity’s paradoxical impact on trends in life expectancy

The rising level of obesity, along with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other related diseases, is predicted to slow down or reverse the decline in mortality seen in most Western countries in recent…
Christmas is a time of plenty - but to ensure we keep eating well in the future, it’s time to rethink the way we buy and produce food. Barbeque image from www.shutterstock.com

Eat, think, and be merry

As we gather to share a meal with friends and family this festive season, it is the ideal time to reflect on our relationship with food, including our dependence on those who grow it for us. Australians…
Researchers are now looking at the effects of diet in developing Alzheimer’s disease. J. McPherskesen/Flickr

Is there a link between diet, obesity and Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is more common among older people but it’s not a normal part of ageing. And as the global population ages, the rate of Alzheimer’s is expected to rise – from 36 million to 115 million…
The star scheme is yet to undergo consumer testing to see if it helps guide healthier food choices. Bruce A Stockwell

Out with traffic lights, in with stars – next steps for food labelling

The federal government is likely to introduce a star system for food packages next year to help consumers make healthier food choices, ABC’s Lateline reported last week. Much like the energy star rating…
The majority of people who have obstructive sleep apnoea are unaware they have the disorder. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is obstructive sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, where the upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep. During an obstructive breathing event, someone with OSA continues…
The move to end the tax appears to be a political one. Sam Howzit

Denmark scraps fat tax in another Big Food victory

Denmark has scrapped the world’s first “fat tax”, which was charged on foods high in saturated fats, after just one year. Plans to introduce a tax on sugar have also been abandoned. In making the announcement…
Unless you’re up to date with the healthy food guidelines, don’t preach to fat people about what they should eat. Stocky Bodies (Isaac Brown)

Doctor, don’t make assumptions about your fat patients

A couple of weeks back I awoke with a swollen and painful knee. I’ve had problem knees since high school and figured that this was just another chapter in the saga. Some days later I was fed up – my knee…
Research shows sports sponsorship works to improve brand recall and positive attitudes among children and adolescents.

Sports sponsorship and kids' health: who are the real winners?

Over the weekend, Australian children and their parents witnessed some of the country’s finest sportsmen display feats of strength, skill and endurance in the Australian Football League (AFL) and National…
Political responses to obesity have been more about creating a spectacle of “doing something” than solving the problem. Bruce A Stockwell

Why we’re losing the battle of the bulge: the politics of obesity prevention

There’s no doubt that obesity has received considerable political attention over the past decade. But data recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows Australians are losing…
There’s no good evidence to show cutting carbs works better than just cutting calories. Skley

Monday’s medical myth: cutting carbs is the best way to lose weight

There seems to be an endless number of fad diets and “golden rules” for weight loss. One of the most popular of these rules is that cutting carbohydrates (carbs) is the best way to lose weight. The most…
Focusing on weight as the problem and weight loss as the solution makes social and economic inequalities invisible. Isaac Brown Stocky Bodies

How anti-obesity campaigns reinforce stigma

Anti-obesity messages are everywhere – in news, in entertainment, and in public health campaigns. We are constantly being told that fat is bad for us, and that in order to be healthy we need to lose weight…
Print advertising from the LiveLighter Western Australia’s anti-obesity campaign.

What does the yuck factor achieve in anti-obesity campaigns ?

The most recent Australian anti-obesity measure, the West Australian LiveLighter campaign, features a series of shocking television advertisements, including one showing a middle-aged man in his kitchen…
Health claims are commonly exploited to promote the consumption of highly processed foods. Flickr / ajleon

Health claims on food products: ministers put marketers in control

Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for food regulation last week bowed to lobbying from processed food manufacturers and agreed to permit them to market products with general level health…
Coke has apparently shared the Olympic ideals since 1928. Michael Francis McCarthy

Olympics sponsorship: supporting sport or funding fat?

What does the Olympics stand for: is it the inspiration for a healthier, sportier community? Or is it just another way to sell junk food and booze to an ever-fatter, ever-drunker population of couch potatoes…
Rather than criticising parents of fat children, it’s more productive to confront the wider issues of neglect and social inequality. Flickr/Jake Folsom

Childhood obesity: are parents really to blame?

Should a child’s obese body be used as evidence to support their removal from their parents' care? According to a recent report in The Age newspaper, the Children’s Court of Victoria thinks so. Victoria’s…
Infants born by C-section had twofold higher odds of developing obesity. randomplaces/Flick

Are people born by caesarean section more likely to be obese?

A study recently published in the British Medical Journal (project Viva) has found that children born by caesarean section have a higher rate of obesity at age three than children born naturally. At first…
McDonald’s has been slapped on the wrist for marketing its Happy Meal to children online. Skynet

Would you like a side of advertising with your Happy Meal?

As public health organisations and the food and advertising industries continue to debate the regulation of marketing unhealthy foods to children, I’ve learnt that health organisations must take the wins…
Depending on their age, children should accumulate between one and three hours of physical activity a day. Kymberly Janisch

Want to stop the obesity epidemic? Let’s get moving

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it – Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and, more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic. Here, Jo Salmon…
Australians from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to struggle with excess weight. Ed Yourdon

Education, wealth and the place you live can affect your weight

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it – Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and, more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic. Here, Kathryn…
One in four Australians are now obese. But when – and how – did we gain this weight? Kyle May

Mapping Australia’s collective weight gain

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. Today we launch a series looking at how this has happened and, more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic…
Labelling a person as “obese” may not always be helpful in prompting positive changes in behaviour. HighContrast

Explainer: overweight, obese, BMI – what does it all mean?

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. Today we launch a series looking at how this has happened and, more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic…
We all know obesity increases our risk of chronic disease, but how does excess fat actually affect our body?

Explainer: how does excess weight cause disease?

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. Today we launch a series looking at how this has happened and, more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic…
Fat prejudice and stigma must be recognised. Stocky Bodies/Isaac Brown

A big fat fight: the case for fat activism

Fatty, go on a diet. Hey doggie, you can do it – you can make it up that hill. Girls are so fat these days, it’s disgraceful – in my day, we watched our weight. You’re beautiful, but you’d be even more…
The poorest people in the world have the largest burden of disease. Jon Baldock

Obesity, poverty and inequality: weighty problems for all of us

A somewhat diverting paper on obesity came out earlier this week. It’s based on a cute idea – looking at what overweight people do to global resource requirements instead of the more traditional approach…
Many people blame laziness and ready access to attractive, energy-dense foods for the obesity epidemic. modenadude/Flickr

Simple answers to the obesity epidemic block solutions

Like politics, football and global warming, obesity is a topic that attracts huge attention in the media as well as talk on the street and in coffee lounges. This is not surprising since it is the most…
Psychological influences on weight problems are extremely important, but are often overlooked. vistavision

Knowledge is power… but it won’t help you lose weight

Researchers have been telling us for decades that being overweight is not good for our health. Medical journals are full of articles that link overweight and obesity to just about every disease and illness…
Establishing a bariatric register will provide confidence that bariatric surgery is safe. flickr/Jacquiscloset

Bariatric surgery works, we just need to ensure it’s safe

Around 2.6 million or 10% of Australians are obese. Obesity contributes to other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnoea, infertility, depression and cancer. The strength…
Rates of stillbirth have fallen in rich countries but are now reaching a plateau. flickr/Trevor Blair

Reducing the heartbreak and burden of stillbirth

Stillbirth is a major but under-researched public health problem affecting three million families each year. Following the 2011 Lancet Stillbirth Series, it has been receiving more attention, and a recent…
Taboos in porn can be shocking, but they can also be very revealing about our sexual apetites. Flickr/billypalooza

Old sex, fat sex and the popularity of porn taboos

Fat people having sex, ugly people having sex, old people having sex. All too readily our culture cringes, shudders, if not gags at the thought. After all, if film and television have taught us anything…
Children aren’t suited to adult-style fitness programs using exercise bikes, treadmills and rowers. Axel Bu hrmann

Kids should get active but adult-style gyms aren’t the answer

With one in five Australian preschool-age children now overweight or obese, it’s no wonder kids' weight is so often in the media spotlight. While the causes of obesity are complex and multifactorial, it’s…
Sugar doesn’t play a greater or lesser role in obesity than fat and other carbohydrates. Esther Gibbons

Monday’s medical myth: sugar is the main culprit in obesity

The debate about the health implications of sugar consumption began back in 1972 when Professor John Judkin, from the University of London, published Pure, White and Deadly, which linked sugar intake to…
There’s a tendency to believe that only obese people need to be educated about unhealthy and unnecessary foods. Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Moving beyond weight: Why the focus on size is bad for health

Parents in Australia recently made headlines expressing frustration with a health-care system that confuses weight with health. They’ve been expressing their anger at two related, but separate, offenses…
Exercising at a moderate intensity is enough to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol. Flickr/dangerouslyfit

Forget boot camp, exercise doesn’t have to be painful

You don’t need to follow the “no pain, no gain” mantra to reap the health benefits of exercise, a new study shows. Military-style boot camps that deliver fast-paced, high-intensity training (and chastise…
Chocolate can be good for you … in moderation. AAP

Are regular chocolate eaters really thinner?

People who eat chocolate on a regular basis tend to be thinner, even when they do not exercise more often, a new study claims. But health experts have warned that the findings of the study, published today…
The Conversation’s health coverage: policy, chiropractic, obesity and medicine. AAP, Planetc1.com, Puuiki Beach, LJA Kliche

Health + Medicine: reflections on our first year

In The Conversation’s first editorial meeting editor Andrew Jaspan explained what he wanted to achieve with the site: a more informed level of debate, based on evidence, research and expert opinion. It…
We can reduce rates of childhood obesity but it requires a coordinated, consistent approach. Sean Dreilinger

Healthier kids requires more than getting them off the couch

Seventeen years of our research into childhood obesity is starting to deliver dividends. We now know what kinds of interventions are effective for reducing the number of overweight and obese children in…
Australia’s revised dietary guidelines must consider environmental sustainability. Wonderlane

Climate change and obesity – eating for the health of the planet

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is currently revising the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Yet, despite expert advice from public health and environmental sustainability groups…
The risk of cancer from air pollution is a fraction of the hazard posed by smoking. EPA/Alex Hofford

Unproven cancer risks diverting focus from real cause: lifestyle

The fixation on potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the air, food and consumer products is diverting attention from the real risks, according to a review of global evidence by an Australian cancer…
Just getting off your chair regularly and moving around is enough to improve your health. Victor1558

Office workers – it’s time to beat the bulge and quit the sit

I’ve never been a smoker but lately I’ve started to take on some of the same zeal of reformed addicts. You see, a few years ago, I took a long, hard look at myself and decided to kick one of the most unnecessary…
Evidence suggests that up to 30% of people who are obese are perfectly healthy. Rudd Centre for Food Policy

Appearance vs. reality: the perfectly healthy obese

No one can claim to be unaware of the risks of obesity in this day and age. Almost every day there are discussions in the media about the risks of carrying excess fat. But research shows the link between…
One reason we feel comfortable laughing at fat bodies is because we believe we can assess an individual’s personal and moral characteristics by their body. Robert Danay

Big belly laughs – why is it okay to laugh at fat people?

Recent articles on perceptions of overweight and obese people have attracted a lot of attention from those with something to say about the overweight and the obese. One point that seems clear from the…
Focussing on individual behaviour for preventing and managing obesity is simplistic and misleading. Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

Back off, fatists – obesity blame games don’t help anyone

For anyone having doubts about overweight or obese people feeling blamed and shamed, the comments on a recent article about a positive image library should settle the matter. They clearly illustrate the…
The image library presents obese people in positive, natural poses. Here, Zoe prepares for work. Isaac Brown

Showing it like it is: a library to fight fatist images in the media

Discussions about obesity tend to focus on perceived health risks and the financial drain they pose to the health system. What’s less recognised is that the way we talk about obesity makes the social position…
If we’re to confront obesity and with any real impact, we need to examine the way modern lifestyles have dramatically altered our food intake and energy expenditure. Darwin Bell

National action needed to stop obesity becoming the norm

By 2025, it’s predicted that ⅔ of the Australian population aged over 25 will be overweight or obese if current trends continue. To paint the picture more crudely, it means that a person of normal weight…
The food industry has won this round but the traffic light labelling fight isn’t over yet. IJClark

States should stand up to the food industry on traffic light labelling

The Federal Government has defied expert advice and rejected a traffic light food labelling system for packaged foods, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show it would give consumers the information…
The multi-country study concluded that in Australia, television advertising’s contribution to childhood obesity is between 10% and 28%. Maggie Osterberg

Government, parents or advertisers: who should decide what kids watch and eat?

A recent complaint to the Advertising Standards Board by the Obesity Policy Coalition about a Smarties online colouring-in competition aimed at three- to ten-year-olds, and a bill introduced by Greens…
Research has found having an overweight father quadruples the chances of kids being overweight. Conor Ashleigh

Sins of the father: heavier dads mean overweight kids

The increase in childhood obesity over the last few decades is frightening. Clearly fresh thinking is needed. New evidence of father’s impact on children’s weight gain may point us toward novel approaches…
While we try to come to terms with the number of obese people, the chance to reverse the growing trend could be lost. austinevan

Shock of numbers could hinder efforts to fight obesity epidemic

This is a shorter version of an article that appears in the latest issue of Perspectives, an opinion-led journal published by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. It’s predicted that two-thirds of the…
Interventions that influence different aspects of the food and physical activity environments are needed to tackle obesity among children. wizardhat/Flickr

Broad range of prevention efforts need to target obesity in children

This is a shorter version of an article that appears in the latest issue of Perspectives, an opinion-led journal published by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. The prevalence of overweight and obesity…
Prescription weight loss medicines are expensive and don’t produce lasting results. Flickr/Flashstep

Are diet pills the silver bullet for obesity?

Welcome to part nine of The science behind weight loss, a Conversation series in which we separate the myths about dieting from the realities of exercise and nutrition. Here, Lennert Veerman, Senior Research…
Your long-term weight loss success is dependant on both exercise and nutrition. Kenny Holston

Food v exercise: What makes the biggest difference in weight loss?

Welcome to part four of The science behind weight loss, a Conversation series in which we separate the myths about dieting from the realities of exercise and nutrition. Here, Deakin University nutrition…
Diet pill manufacturers take advantage of consumers' desire to look and feel better. Flickr/jypsygen

Want to set up a weight loss scam? Here’s how …

Welcome to part two of The science behind weight loss, a new Conversation series in which we separate the myths about dieting from the realities of exercise and nutrition. Here, Michael Vagg, Clinical…
Fad diets might give you short-term “results” but they’re unlikely to keep the weight off. Flickr/HTB

Diets and weight loss: separating facts from fiction

Welcome to The science behind weight loss, a new Conversation series where we separate the myths about dieting from the realities of exercise and nutrition. In our first instalment, renowned nutritionist…
As a pregnant woman’s weight increases above normal levels, so does her child’s risk of asthma. Flickr/limascarjuliet

Pregnancy, obesity and child asthma: an uncomfortable connection

Being obese during pregnancy dramatically increases the risk of the child developing asthma by their tenth birthday, according a study published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology…
An analysis of newspaper reporting about sweet drinks found coverage was largely positively oriented. barekim/Flickr

Calories don’t quench thirst – mixed media messages about sweet drinks

Sugary drinks are very popular, almost entirely unnecessary, and contribute to a number of health problems. Despite such health risks, these drinks are increasingly marketed as healthy with labels highlighting…
Australia needs a tax on unhealthy foods that covers more than just fat content. Flickr/ms Tea

Is a ‘fat tax’ the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis?

Australia should follow the lead of Denmark and consider taxing foods high in saturated fats to curb the nation’s growing obesity problem, Greens leader Bob Brown said at yesterday’s tax forum. This week…
The most promising interventions to curb obesity’s prevalence target the population as a whole rather than individuals. Tobyotter

Stemming the obesity epidemic requires courageous, population-level action

Non-communicable diseases – Lennert Veerman examines the reasons for the obesity epidemic and options for controlling it. Obesity levels are on the rise the world over. This is a sign that something is…
Government policies promoting economic growth have contributed to global crises of overconsumption such as obesity. colros/Flickr

Shaping up: a blueprint to reverse our 40-year weight gain

Obesity has been on the rise for some 40 years and will continue to create an enormous burden on global health systems if governments around the world do not take decisive, policy-driven action, according…
Aside from folate, most pregnant women get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. Flickr/Future Street

Explainer: what to eat and avoid during pregnancy

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll know what it’s like to be bombarded with mixed messages from well-meaning friends and family about what you should eat and avoid to protect your growing baby. It can…
Excessive sitting increases your risk of chronic disease, even if you get enough exercise.

Sitting nine to five (and beyond): the perils of sedentary lifestyles

Whether it’s at work, in cars, watching TV or using the computer, there’s no denying many of us spend the majority of our days sitting. And while science is yet to prove conclusively that too much sitting…
Adjusting your protein intake can help you lose weight or build muscle mass. Neric Blein

Can protein intake control fat? The weight-loss search continues

For most people, successful weight loss comes down to two things: eating less and exercising more. But new research shows we may have been underestimating the role protein plays in losing weight and building…
Guidelines say no TV for under 2s, then no more than two hours a day. Keenen Brown

Square eyes: how much TV is too much for kids?

If you’ve ever sat your toddler down in front of the television to give yourself a few minutes of much-needed rest, you’re certainly not alone. But for many parents, those few minutes of bliss that come…
Psammomys obesus or the Israeli sand rat provides an insight into how the thrifty gene hypothesis may work. Tino Strauss

Explainer: Diabetes and obesity – the biggest epidemic in human history

In the last few decades, the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled globally, making the combination of type 2 diabetes and obesity (known as diabesity) the largest epidemic the world has…
Keeping weight off is much harder than losing weight in the first instance. AAP

Weighing up the options on obesity

Prevention is the cornerstone of society’s response to the current obesity epidemic. But even if no more people were to gain much more weight, those who are already obese face serious health problems…
It’s how much you eat, not when you eat it, that affects weight management.

Monday’s medical myth: eating at night causes weight gain

If only a cure to world hunger was as easy as dishing out late-night sandwiches to the starving masses, and seeing them gain weight by eating at night. The reality is that it’s not when you eat, but how…
Children form lifetime brand associations from age two. flickr/AlternativeMedia

It’s time for Ronald McDonald to hang up the red wig

More than 550 international health professionals and organisations have signed a letter to McDonald’s calling for the Ronald McDonald icon to be shelved. What’s made Ronald McDonald such a successful marketing…

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Obesity by any other name would still be fat

What is obesity? Is it a disease, an illness, a risk factor, or a condition? And semantics aside, does this really matter? In 2013, the American Medical Association declared that obesity was “a disease…

Research and News (25)

Research Briefs (52)

Type 2 diabetes is a family affair

Spousal history may take a greater role in the detection of type 2 diabetes, as people partnered to those with the condition…

Extra kilos may not cut lifespan

Extra weight is not necessarily linked with a higher risk of death. When compared to those with normal weight, people who…

Mango skin to fight flab

The skins of two common mango varieties contain natural compounds that may help to fight flab. The study found that the peel…

Weight and age affect childbirth pain

First-time mothers, obese women and those who have longer labours experience greater pain in childbirth than other women…