Sunday, July 22, 2012

Junk food companies and lack of playgrounds behind obesity crisis, academic says

There is no such thing as "junk" food.  A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potato.  If that is bad we are all in the poo.  And the best evidence is that demand levels of fat, salt and sugar are harmless.  Too little salt can in fact kill you (Google hyponatremia if you doubt it)

FAT people are not to blame for being overweight, a top Melbourne academic claims.

Dr Samantha Thomas, who spoke at the annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference in Melbourne, said the war on obesity was failing because society put too much emphasis on personal responsibility.

"Obesity rates are still increasing because we put all the responsibility on the individual, but are completely reluctant to tackle the corporations that are part of the cause - the junk food companies, the soft drink companies, even the town planners who design new suburbs with no backyards or playgrounds," Dr Thomas said.

Dr Thomas, a senior research fellow at the Monash University School of Marketing, said more should be done to prevent obesity, rather than simply telling people to lose weight.

"It is easy to say 'I do the right thing, why don't they?', but for some people, for a variety of reasons, it is very hard to make the right decisions. We really need to create a healthy environment to help people do that," she said.

Dr Thomas said the anti-obesity fight should be similar to the war on smoking, with big tobacco companies blamed rather than individuals labelled weak or lazy.

"With the anti-smoking movement, we realised that tobacco was being heavily marketed at adolescents and we were disgusted," she said. "Junk food is heavily marketed at children and adolescents but, instead of trying to stop that, we just put all the responsibility on parents."

Dr Thomas said more than 60 per cent of the population was overweight or obese, so the situation affected more people than many would admit.

But YMCA Victoria spokesman Stephen Bendle said while environment did play a role in health, people needed to learn to make the right choices themselves.

"The YMCA encourages people to take responsibility for their weight and, just as importantly, for their overall health and wellbeing," Mr Bendle said.


Global warming takes a break in chilly July

Report from the Northern Territory

TERRITORIANS were left shivering last night as some of them endured the coldest July in 35 years.

Alice Springs residents experienced overnight lows averaging -0.4 C - a long way below the average of 4.1C that is normal for this time of year.

The last time nights were this cold in Central Australia was back in 1977.

Top End rural residents woke up with teeth chattering after the mercury dropped to 9C overnight.

In Darwin things weren't much warmer, with the thermometer registering 16C, the coldest overnight temperature in 10 days.


'Dangerous' NSW mum wins back stolen kids

It's appalling that a mere opinion can lead to such punitive official action

ROBBED of her beloved kids and branded a "dangerous" mum, a NSW woman has spoken of her joy of being reunited with her daughter after nine years of separation.

For 19-years, the mother struggled to keep her family together as childcare authorities were hellbent on tearing them apart.

But her courage and conviction has finally won. The baby "stolen" from her 23 days after she entered the world in 2002 is safely by her side.

The youngster has spent her life in foster care after childcare authorities believed the mum suffered from the discredited condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy in 1993.

"I've been waiting 10 years to bring my baby home," said the elated mum, who has requested not to be identified for the childrens' sake. She was labelled with the condition, in which mothers harm and even kill their children to gain attention, after her second-born son failed to thrive. Her next two children were removed as well.

Community Services Minister Pru Goward told The Sunday Telegraph she was pleased the matter had been resolved, but has demanded an explanation from her department.

"This will help my understanding of the events which led to the removal of these children," said Ms Goward, who made representations on the mother's part when she was in opposition.

With three children removed between 1993 and 2002, the woman went on the run to give birth to a son in December 2003 to avoid detection. Authorities made the child a ward of the state in her absence and when she was tracked down in October 2008 in Moree, they removed the boy who was then four.

After an 18-month court battle, the boy was returned to his mother in April 2010 and has lived with her ever since.

The two older children are grown up and no longer wards of the state. Her nine-year-old daughter had expressed wishes to be returned to her real mother and after her foster carer relinquished care, the child was returned.

"She gets in bed with me in the morning and says: 'I'm so happy', it's just beautiful',' the woman said.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy was coined by British paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow.

It was discredited in 2003 after Meadows' evidence wrongly jailed three women for murder.


Schools are adopting a new 'tough love' teaching initiative

SCHOOLS are clamouring to adopt a revolutionary "tough love" teaching initiative - replacing empty praise and gold stars for coming last.

KidsMatter is a radical shift from three decades of enhancing student self-esteem through positive reinforcement and rewards.

Students are now getting lessons in reality and learning self-management, responsible decision-making, and coping with difficulties and mistakes.

Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said it was time for all teachers and parents to focus on social and emotional competencies.

"Young people in Sydney would be far better off if we spent time teaching them anger management, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution, and how to name and recognise not just their own thoughts and feelings but those of other people, too," Mr Carr-Gregg said.

Carlton Public School in Sydney's south this week introduced the social and emotional learning skills.

Principal Stephen Cooper said it emphasised personal and social development and relationship skills.

"I think the modern generation of kids are protected and they need to be exposed to situations that challenge them," he said.

Despite a successful pilot in 2006, the take-up of KidsMatter remained slow. Of the 800 primary schools across Australia implementing the program. the majority have signed up this year.

It was developed in collaboration with Principals Australia, the Australian Psychological Society, and BeyondBlue. The federal government and BeyondBlue will fund rollout to another 1400 schools by 2014.

Psychology professor Dr Helen McGrath said schools were rethinking the emphasis on self-esteem.

"Change in any sector such as education can be slow but I think there are an enormous amount of schools aware of what is happening," she said.

However, one western Sydney principal said some parents pressured schools to recognise their child with awards.

"I think it's come generally from society in that you can't fail any more," he said.

Dr Carr-Gregg said the self-esteem movement protected children from failure, robbed them of loss and grief and created a spate of anxiety disorders in young people unable to cope when they leave the protective cocoon of school or home.

"The idea of not actually allowing kids to be inspired by misfortune and the terrible things that can happen to them from time to time is almost cruel," he said.


Federal anti-gun push blocked

RIFLE shooters will keep their historic home in southern Sydney after a court ruled that the federal government had no right to evict their organisation.

In a major blow to plans to convert the Malabar headland into a national park, the 150-year-old NSW Rifle Association yesterday won its court battle against the government to stay at the Anzac Rifle Range.

A Supreme Court judge found the government unfairly tried to evict the NSWRA, which has called the Malabar range home for nearly 45 years, without first finding it an alternative home.

The government issued three "remedy notices" earlier this year, claiming the shooters had failed to keep its buildings in good condition.

It gave the NSWRA a little over two weeks to repair damaged asbestos and comply with a fire-safety plan or be driven out for licence breaches.

However, the association claimed the real motive was to fulfil election promises made by local MP Peter Garrett.

Yesterday NSWRA chairman John Fitzgerald said forcing the group out without a new base would have been "devastating" for the sport in the state.


1 comment:

Paul said...

The Paediatric nurses I know don't consider Munchhausens-by-proxie discredited.