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21 Comments

  1. 1

    Rosie Cornell

    I’m glad WHO is standing up … it’s about time; however, I am totally opposed to any government telling me what I can and cannot eat. Sorry, but just as there are a lot of people who overindulge with sugar, there are those who have it as an occasional treat. Perhaps the answer lies in educating people rather than yet another heavy-handed big brother knows best policy approach? I may be a cynic, but anything the government (any government) tries to regulate and control invariably gets corrupted; this will be no different and will simply give us more regulation which has the potential to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals with the stroke of a pen. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

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  2. 2

    Richard Koser

    Pretty sure there are more than 92 member states of the UN. Perhaps 192?

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  3. 3

    Merve

    From the Ancient Greeks to Andrew Bolt, I defend free speech. Except when it comes to advising people on the health risks of consuming too much sugar.

    * Don’t know how anyone could put Ancient Greeks and Andrew Bolt in the same sentence, you would have to ask the IPA.

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  4. 4

    Jimmyhaz

    Sugar is more addictive than cocaine, and responsible for far more deaths than heroin, about time the WHO did something about it.

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  5. 5

    jackspratt

    Gary Taubes is worth a read for the research he has done on sugar. Once you understand the biochemistry, and it is not that difficult to get a grasp of the process, then the evidence is fairly powerful. Essentially it is this, fat is trapped in fat cells as long as insulin is being mobilised. And insulin is mobilised whenever we use sugar. You cannot lose weight from your fat deposits if you consume sugar even if you cut your calorie intake and exercise. You will lose muscle tone, you will starve but your gut will stay.

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  6. 6

    Leon Miller

    Rosie, it’s not a matter of regulating or controlling. Rather, it is a matter of public education. That was the approach with tobacco and it worked, so why not with sugar? Yes, there has to be personal responsibility if people are going to make a change. However, those same people need to be aware of the realities of the hugely negative effects of sugar.

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  7. 7

    JennyWren

    @Rosie, I agree with the personal responsibility mantra but that is being a little disingenuous in this particular debate. There are many types of sugar and refined sugar is the baddie here. Regulation is needed in the form of information for consumers but also in processed foods, where nasties like High Fructose Corn Syrup are used and most people wouldn’t know what that is, if they even read the ingredients at all. (Seriously I learned to do that in Home Science classes in the 80’s and I just cannot believe that people are so trusting of multinational food corporations!!)If you go to a takeaway and the bun in your hamburger is 50% sugar you wouldn’t have any idea about that, would you? It’s not like they list the ingredients like they do in Italy for example. So how exactly are you supposed to take personal responsibility for eating something you aren’t fully informed about? That is what we need the govt for; regulation and information. That’s what the big multis are fighting tooth and nail against.

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  8. 8

    Peter Byrnes

    Hi Rosie, this isn’t about the government telling you what you can eat. It certainly isn’t about criminalising sugar consumption. It is partly about the personal choices people make. But its mainly about the choices that are offered by food manufacturers.

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  9. 9

    sneedy

    Rosie, WHO isn’t trying to regulate or limit how much sugar you CAN eat; it’s trying to give you expert advice on how much sugar you SHOULD eat. World of difference.

    Anyone have a link to the leaked draft?

    …. and queue Bernard Keane on the ‘nanny state’ …

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  10. 10

    Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    @Leon Miller.I would argue that the tax on tobacco and the limiting of where people are allowed to smoke may have more to do with the decrease in tobacco use than anything else. Public Education is failing miserably where alcohol is concerned and it’s been failing miserably where obesity is concerned for decades.
    I’ve got a challenge for David Gillespie, if he removes his prime motivation for maintaining his weight loss – makes no public appearances, writes no books, no blogs, no publicity whatsoever and receives no money from these activities for a year (and goes back to his old job) – will he be able to keep the weight off?
    Sorry but this guy looks like just another salesman peddling a diet book. Isn’t it time we acknowledged that decades of diet books, supplements, gyms and a dietitian growth industry talking at people about what they should be doing just isn’t working?

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  11. 11

    JennyWren

    @SS perhaps that’s why DG wrote that book, precisely because decades of information, gyms etc aren’t working? How come we are all getting fatter, even the third world now? Don’t you think that it could be the hidden factors in our food which are actually sugars but are disguised (palm oil, HFCS, fructose)and are making us fat.
    Also, don’t forget the famous “low fat” and “99%fat free” alternatives to genuine food have basically taken out the fat (read: flavour) and substituted it with….. a form of sugar. Sugar which has none of the good stuff of fat (protecting the brain etc) just the same ability to put more lard on our waists and contribute to the obesity/diabetes type 2 epidemic.
    I suppose it’s one way of population control….

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  12. 12

    leon knight

    If American senators go after something really hard, you can be absolutely certain that huge and merciless businesses are after your hard-earned with no regard for your health whatsoever.
    The power of rich lobbies in America is a blight on civilisation – more power the WHO, let’s hope they can put a huge dent in those coffers.

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  13. 13

    Tim nash

    Most people are really dumb when it comes to food, and health. Lets face it people would still all be smoking like a chimney if they didn’t regulate the cigarette industry.

    I agree we should be free to eat what we want, but plenty of people are getting rich off addictive food that is packed full of sugar.

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  14. 14

    Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    @JW – his next book is how vegetable oils are causing cancer. I would also suggest that the third world is now getting fatter because they have access to cheap calories that they did not have beforehand.
    I would suggest that humans are biologically programmed to put on weight when calories are freely available – which for most of the human race has only been very recently. A Human being who did not overeat (and put on weight) when calories were available was likely to die during the lean times.
    I can’t see that eliminating one type of food from everyone’s diet is going to change this and I’d like to see him back up his claims with some research – it wouldn’t be too hard to reproduce his claims with a study on rats but no-one has managed to do this as far as I can see.

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  15. 15

    Rosemary Stanton

    The first Australian Dietary Guidelines (1981) included a guidelines stating “avoid eating too much sugar’. It was almost certainly successful as it led to the sugar industry mounting a huge campaign to convince us that sugar was ‘a natural part of life’.

    The next revision of the Guidelines retained advice on sugar – in spite of food industry pressure to remove it, but I agree with David that the wording ‘eat only moderate amounts of added sugar and foods containing added sugars’ was too vague. I came across people who omitted the ‘only’, giving the advice a totally different meaning!

    The NHMRC’s 2013 revision of the Guidelines found increased evidence for problems caused by added sugars, especially for sugar-sweetened drinks (as WHO has also noted). Some food industry people again lobbied for a guideline on sugar to be dropped. The evidence was against them and the guideline was strengthened reads “limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugar such as confectionery, sugar-sweetened drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks”. Other sections recommend limiting sweet foods such as cakes, biscuits etc

    We don’t need any added sugar, but the amount anyone can handle varies. Those who are slim and physically active can usually burn off more than those who are sedentary and/or overweight. Indeed, the Dietary Guidelines advise those who need to lose body fat that there really is no room for junk at all.

    BTW – we don’t use high fructose corn syrup in Australia.

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  16. 16

    64magpies

    SS,have you considered that the decades of dietary interventions haven’t worked because the advice was wrong?
    I am opposed to any tax on food, not least because it may turn out that the sugar theory of obesity is as wrong as the previous advice was…. Maybe for some people anyway. I personally think it’s right though, and I avoid the stuff.

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  17. 17

    Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    Rosemary – I don’t have a problem with the advice that people should eat less sugar, I have a problem that advice is not working in modifying behavior. Your statement that “It was almost certainly successful as it led to the sugar industry mounting a huge campaign to convince us that sugar was ‘a natural part of life’.” is not evidence. If you could show a large weight loss following this advice that would be evidence. I think the diet industry needs to focus on How to help people to do what they need to rather than telling them What they need to do. And this is hard and I have no answers for this myself but what we are doing now isn’t working.

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  18. 18

    Hamis Hill

    “Pure, White and Deadly” by British Doctor Richard Yudkin.
    Worth reading.
    The challenge for governments, especially those which do not have Science Ministers, is to quantify the financial cost to taxpayers (of the long suffering kind enamoured by conservatives) of something in excess in the national diet which is “Pure, White and Deadly”.
    And perhaps do something about the Vicious Lawless Associations who profit from it.

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  19. 19

    AR

    Like the British Opium Wars, the addicting of the west to sugar was pure commercial imperial imperative, the vast sugar plantations of the Windies needing slave labour which led to…
    And so it goes, and comes around again, sins of the forefathers.

    Reply
  20. 20

    Rosemary Stanton

    Shaniq1ua – I agree with your point that advice is not working in modifying behaviour. Advice plays a role but is unlikely to change behaviour on its own. We saw this with smoking. Telling people of the hazards of smoking was not effective on its own to decrease smoking rates. When combined with banning advertising, curtailing places where people could smoke, changing public attitudes with the assistance of anti-smoking ads, increasing prices and various campaigns directed at youth, the end result was a dramatic reduction in the number of smokers. Structural changes were needed. The same applies to changing people’s diets.

    My point was to counteract the idea being promoted by some that Australia’s dietary guidelines ignored sugar. From the first dietary goals for Australians (in 1979), reducing sugar consumption has been there. The language used started out as quite strong, was modified due to industry pressure and has now been strengthened on the basis of more documented evidence (and in defiance of continuing industry pressure).

    The food industry monitors community attitudes and actions (they have more resources to do so than those of us working in public health) and when the industry reacts (as they did when people started reducing sugar consumption), it is usually because they have enough evidence to do so. The reaction from the food industry against curtailing promotions for junk foods and drinks is because they have enough ‘evidence’ that sales will be adversely affected. Their ‘evidence’ is not published in peer-reviewed literature but is sufficient for them to spend big money on ensuring they are not curtailed in any way.

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  21. 21

    rory robertson

    WHO say reduce sugar consumption. Why? After all, the University of Sydney has documented “an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/quickquizresearch.pdf

    Moreover, “[T]here is absolute consensus that sugar in food does not cause [type 2] diabetes”: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/diabetes.pdf

    Interestingly, the University of Sydney also charges food companies up to $6,000 a pop to stamp particular brands of sugar and sugary treats as Healthy: (pp. 10-11) http://www.gisymbol.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/GIF-Make-Healthy-Choices-Easier-Brochure-2014.pdf

    Some sort of formal investigation now is underway: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/AFR-report-investigation.pdf

    Reply

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