Friday, 10 August 2018

Inquiry into Australia's obesity epidemic - observations and a prediction

Unbeknownst to me, the Australian Senate has been holding an inquiry into the obesity epidemic and the Select Committee chosen to report, will do so in a few days time - 14 August.

145 submissions were received by the committee, comprised of a bunch of politicians, which is never a good thing. While it would be nice to read all of them, I have a life of sorts, so I picked out 20-30 and skimmed them to get the gist of what people are claiming are the problems.

Dot points are go: 
  • Advertising ‘unhealthy’ food to kids is not good.
  • A sugar tax is widely supported.
  • Except by the sugar industry and fast food businesses.
  • The Australian Sugar Alliance (ASA) think that their $2B contribution to the economy is clear evidence that obesity can’t be pinned on sugar.
  • Coca Cola contribute $3Billion to the Aust economy. Suck on that, ASA.
  • Haigh’s Chocolate want it known that they contribute to charities and are thinking about signing up to the idiotic Treatwise program.
  • Mars is a founding member of Treatwise and is working hard to adopt the woefully tragic Health Star Rating system.
  • KFC want the committee to know that, since 2012, they cook with canola oil and also remove the skin from their zinger burgers. I'm not kidding on that second one.
  • Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation think the Star Ratings system should be compulsory. Y'know, because it works so well
  • The Australian Medical Association think access to bariatric surgery should be easier.
  • Nestle pledge to take out even more saturated fat from their products.
  • The Grains and Legumes Council are sad that Aussies aren't following nutritional guidelines and eating enough grains and legumes.  And wholegrains aren't in the Star Ratings algorithm.
  • Rosemary Stanton, the grand old Dame of Australian nutrition, tells everyone to stop picking on the Dietary Guidelines “It is hard to see how dietary guidelines can be blamed when so few people follow them. It is not the guidelines that have failed, but rather people’s failure to follow them.”
  • Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)…what Rosemary said.

A comedian named Robert Lowndes started his submission with this gem – “I speak with extensive knowledge of the sugar industry and nutrition having worked for CSR Limited (a sugar company) for over thirty years before leaving in 1995 to join the starch based food ingredient industry for a further seventeen years. I have no vested interest other than a desire for a balanced and science based approach to obesity and the role of sugar. I was the managing director of New Zealand Sugar Company Ltd for six years from 1987.”

Robbo should have left it at that, but it went all predictably downhill from there.

CHOICE’s submission, a consumer advocate group, was not too bad. They pointed out that a lot of research is funded by cunts at the ASA, Nestle, Kellogg and the Grains Council. Unlike a lot of ‘accredited practising dietitians’, CHOICE thought this was silly.

Name withheld (sub 33) kept it short and sharp, saying that her husband was provided all sorts of sugary wonderness in the Prince of Wales Cardiac Unit. She also thought LCHF was the reason she’d maintained a 30kg weight loss for over 10 years and dropped her diabetes meds. Poor na├»ve, name withheld, there is only one explanation for her results - she clearly has no concept of what she’s actually been eating and how much of a calorie deficit she’s been subconsciously maintaining.

Submission 9 from David Roberts was a little cringe-worthy in its appeal to low-carb celebrity, but it was one of the very few that pointed out the financial conflicts of the DAA. David’s was probably the one that Rosemary got so shitty and defensive about.  

I am naturally pessimistic, but in this case I truly believe that if you hold an inquiry and get a bunch of very well-paid clowns to run it and then you get 145 submissions from various groups all pushing their own agenda, change is unlikely.

Real solutions to a problem like national obesity require new thinking and this whole charade stinks of politicians doing something to be seen to be doing something. 

The loudest voices say we need a sugar tax and that Australians need to wake up to how truly wonderful the Dietary Guidelines are. These are bullshit solutions and won't work while we have nutritional authorities with a vested interest in pushing a diet based on carbohydrates and seed oils.

If the report comes out in a few day's time and has realistic goals and non-bullshit solutions, I will pash the nearest vegan.