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Obesity epidemic

Analysis and Comment (42)

Takes time and effort. Takes time and effort. maradonna 8888

Why losing weight is hard – but not impossible

Seeing pictures of preened celebrities, or even slimmer friends, makes many wish that their arms were that little bit thinner or abs more tightly toned. Most of us have an existing desire to be a normal…
Australia tops the world for physical activity-friendly built environments but ranks second last for levels of children’s activity. 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…
Big Food in Australia is not the same as the industry in the United States, where much of the popular media has come from. Big Food in Australia is not the same as the industry in the United States, where much of the popular media has come from. Steven Caddy/Flickr

Big Food with a regional flavour: how Australia’s food lobby works

Criticism of the food industry has itself become a niche industry. But the tendency to embrace a US-centric conception of how the industry works risks masking local variants and inhibiting a targeted response…
Most Australians already fail to meet the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Most Australians already fail to meet the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Strikkelise/Flickr

Adding GST to fresh food is a recipe for poor health

Recent calls by Australian government ministers and senior officials to broaden the goods and services tax (GST) base to include fresh fruit and vegetables would make the population’s diet go from bad…
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. 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…
Our changing food environment has undermined our capacity to be responsible in the first place. 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…
Trans fats are used in highly-processed foods such as biscuits, pastries, and fast food. Trans fats are used in highly-processed foods such as biscuits, pastries, and fast food. Flickr/crimfants

US set to restrict trans fats, but should Australia follow?

The increased supply and marketing of processed food high in fat, sugar and salt are recognised as the major drivers of obesity and diet-related diseases globally. As part of efforts to improve the healthiness…
Prioritising physical activity and healthy eating is having a positive impact on childhood obesity in the United States. 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…
There’s no need to temper our efforts to address the obesity epidemic just yet. 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. 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. 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…
Many proposed measures for curbing obesity around the work are aimed at restricting the intake sugar from soft drinks. 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…
Overweight pets have become collateral casualties in the ongoing war against human obesity. Overweight pets have become collateral casualties in the ongoing war against human obesity. MrTGT/Flickr

It’s a dog’s life when man’s best friend becomes his fattest

A study published this morning in Nature offers further insight into how dogs became domesticated. The comparative analysis of human, canine and wolf genomes suggests that humans and dogs have evolved…
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. 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…
We are surrounded by energy-dense foods that result in a positive energy balance. We are surrounded by energy-dense foods that result in a positive energy balance. lordwikket/Flickr

The obesity epidemic – too much food for thought?

The policies and public health strategies that we have implemented are proving inadequate for controlling the global epidemic of obesity. An effective approach may be for governments to implement radical…
The move to end the tax appears to be a political one. 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…
Political responses to obesity have been more about creating a spectacle of “doing something” than solving the problem. 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…
The combination of more access and busier lifestyles has likely contributed to increasing consumption of fast food. The combination of more access and busier lifestyles has likely contributed to increasing consumption of fast food. Ben Weston

Fast food v councils: the battle for hearts, minds and bellies

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has just finished hearing submissions in a case against McDonald’s opening an outlet in the town of Tecoma. The case is part of a growing trend of…
The main sources of fructose in the typical western diet are processed foods and beverages. The main sources of fructose in the typical western diet are processed foods and beverages. Boris/Flickr

What role does fructose have in weight gain?

Sucrose or sugar has two components – glucose and fructose. Glucose is present in virtually all naturally-occurring sweet foods and also exists as starch (although in a different chemical form, so it doesn’t…
Print advertising from the LiveLighter Western Australia’s anti-obesity campaign. 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…
Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Bobcatnorth/Flickr

Putting health at the heart of sustainability policy

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. Today Anthony…
Labelling a person as “obese” may not always be helpful in prompting positive changes in behaviour. 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…
The poorest people in the world have the largest burden of disease. 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. 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…
Establishing a bariatric register will provide confidence that bariatric surgery is safe. 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…
Fat discrimination may result from everyday values and practices we use to regulate our relationship to food and public life. Fat discrimination may result from everyday values and practices we use to regulate our relationship to food and public life. davehighbury/Flickr

Does the art of living make fat discrimination common sense?

The persecution of people for their weight is a serious problem that should be addressed by government and civil society. But the ideal of ending fat discrimination faces some profound difficulties. This…
There’s a tendency to believe that only obese people need to be educated about unhealthy and unnecessary foods. 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…
Focussing on individual behaviour for preventing and managing obesity is simplistic and misleading. 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. 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. 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 sooner we understand the risk factors that make children vulnerable to obesity, the more traction we can gain to reduce this number. The sooner we understand the risk factors that make children vulnerable to obesity, the more traction we can gain to reduce this number. D. Sharon Pruitt

Girls in single-parent families at greater risk of obesity

In Australia, girls in single-parent families are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese than children in dual-parent families. This fits with recent research findings from the United States showing…
The food industry has won this round but the traffic light labelling fight isn’t over yet. 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…
While we try to come to terms with the number of obese people, the chance to reverse the growing trend could be lost. 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. 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…
The majority of obese people will have at least one other chronic disease. The majority of obese people will have at least one other chronic disease. Mallinaltzin

Adapt or die: changing the environment is key to surviving 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. Maladaption is the inability of a species…
Prescription weight loss medicines are expensive and don’t produce lasting results. 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…
How much weight can be lost from reducing calorie intake is generally misunderstood. How much weight can be lost from reducing calorie intake is generally misunderstood. Flickr/puuikibeach

An online tool to help achieve your weight-loss goal (no, it’s not a fad diet)

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 Public Health…
Fad diets might give you short-term “results” but they’re unlikely to keep the weight off. 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…
An analysis of newspaper reporting about sweet drinks found coverage was largely positively oriented. 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. 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. 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…

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