Why Africa should resist the power of Big Sugar to undermine public health

The Conversation, 8 November 2016
Author: Rob Moodie
“The junk food, sugary drink and alcohol industries claim to be part of the solution. The solution requires them to help improve their consumers’ health by decreasing advertising to children, reducing levels of salt, fat and sugar in their products, and labelling food honestly and clearly. These are all measures they are convinced are in conflict with their responsibility to make money for their shareholders.”
Find article here.

Streamlining ethics review for multisite quality and safety initiatives: national bariatric surgery registry experience

Med J Aust 2016; 205 (5): 200-201
Authors: Wendy A Brown, Brittany R Smith, Melissa Boglis, Dianne L Brown, Margaret Anderson, Paul E O’Brien, John J McNeil, Ian D Caterson
“Bariatric surgery is burgeoning in Australia. In 2016, it is estimated that there will be over 15 000 such procedures performed in Australia at a direct cost of over $225 million. Yet there are no evidence-based guidelines directing who should be offered this surgery, nor are there any long-term community data documenting its safety and efficacy in Australia.”
Find article here.

Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like ‘racial discrimination’

The Guardian, 3 September 2016
Authors: Kevin Rawlinson, Chris Johnston
“The decision by an NHS body to restrict obese patients’ access to elective surgery until they lose weight is comparable with racial or religious discrimination, a surgeon has said.”
Find article here.

Will a sugar tax actually work?

The Guardian, online 17 Match 2016
Authors: Alberto Nardelli and George Arnett
“There is no question sugary soft drinks damage your health, but is the budget levy the best way to tackle the problem? The rabbit out of a hat in George Osborne’s budget is the introduction of a levy on sugary soft drinks. There will be two tiers to this sugar tax: one will apply to drinks with sugar content above 5g per 100ml and another to drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.”
Find article here. See SMH article ‘UK introduces sugar tax on soft drinks, Jamie Oliver urges Australia to follow‘.

Obesity, paternalism and fairness

J Med Ethics 2015;41:889-892 doi:10.1136/medethics-2014-102537
Author: Johannes Kniess
“Many liberal theories are committed to the promotion of population health, and the principle of non-interference in individual life plans. Public health interventions often bring out a tension between these two values. In this paper, I examine this tension by assessing the justifiability of liberty-restricting policies in the field of obesity prevention.”
Find abstract here.

How Often Is B.M.I. Misleading?

NYT, 28 August 2015
Author: Albert Sun,
“As part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the agency surveyed body fat levels of over 5,000 people across the country about 10 years ago. Along with measuring people’s height and weight, researchers used a special type of density-measuring X-ray called a DXA scan to measure body fat percentage. Eleven percent who were overweight according to B.M.I. had normal body fat. The consequence is that some perfectly healthy high-B.M.I. people might be unnecessarily worried about their weight or penalized by higher insurance premiums.”
Find article here.

UK proposals to strip obese claimants of benefits ‘flawed and unethical’

The Guardian, 31 July 2015
Author: Damien Gayle
“UK government proposals to strip obese or drug-addicted welfare claimants of benefits if they refuse treatment may violate medical ethics, the president of the British Psychological Society has said. Prof Jamie Hacker Hughes, whose organisation represents psychologists in the UK, said people should not be coerced into accepting psychological treatment and, if they were, evidence shows it would not work.”
Find article here.

Government delays publication of plans for reduction in UK’s sugar intake

The Guardian, 14 July 2015
Author: Denis Campbell
“Ministers have shelved the publication of a report by their own health advisers on whether it is possible to tackle the obesity crisis through controversial moves such as taxing sugary drinks or banning two-for-one offers on sweet treats in supermarkets. Malcolm Clark, coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, an alliance of health, education and children’s organisations, said: “The government’s scrapping of Public Health England’s recommendations on sugar reduction looks like deplorable complacency in the face of a health epidemic. We hope this will not turn out to be an anti-science government.”
Find article here.

Sugary Drinks Linked To Many Thousands Of Deaths Globally

Forbes, 30 June 2015
Author: Alice G. Walton
“Researchers from rom Tufts University calculate that sugary drinks alone are responsible for many thousands of deaths per year. And this adds to an increasing shift in the nutritional tide. Dietary fat – which was once the biggest culprit – is now getting a reprieve, as the upper limit on fat intake has just been scrapped in the new dietary guidelines. And sugar, which we always knew wasn’t great for us, is increasingly being linked not only to obesity, but to various chronic illnesses, and even to death.”
Find article here.