Making a mess of obesity prevention

Public health advocates have consistently failed to get substantial Government support for their initiatives to tackle the obesity epidemic. And they only have themselves to blame.

Last week on ABC radio’s AM current affairs program the former chair of the National Preventative Health Taskforce lamented that the Government had failed to address obesity. In 2009, the Taskforce released a report titled Obesity in Australia: a need for urgent action which was supposed to be the springboard for Government action on the issue. Instead, the report was tossed onto a large pile of obesity reports and recommendations that have been ignored by our politicians.

What went wrong? Why did the then Government, which was favourably disposed to public health and disease prevention, fail to act? My guess is that it was the appalling quality of the report.

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Jim Mann on carbohydrate quality

“The problem is that many dietitians around the world are telling people to have wholegrain bread when most wholegrain bread is roughly comparable to eating a bag of glucose.”

Last month Professor Jim Mann** addressed the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona on the controversial topic of carbohydrate quality. Although he was mainly talking about carbohydrates in the diets of people with diabetes, what’s good for this group is good for most of us.


Given the current hysteria about sugar it was interesting that Professor Mann had little to say about it. He indicated that the current EASD recommendation for the general population i.e. that total free sugars be limited to 10% of energy, was appropriate and was likely to be retained when new EASD guidelines are released. He had a lot more to say about starch.

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