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Fat kidsjunk food and emotionBy ...

Posted Feb 05 2010 12:49am

Fat kidsjunk food and emotion

By Luke Malpass

Every time you open a newspaper or watch the newsyou find yourself being bombarded with the news that junk food creates fat kidsand for the crime of unleashing a childhood obesity epidemic on innocent parents and childrenthe fast food industry should be punished or at least have their commercial activities severely curtailed. Individual or parental responsibility plays no role; it is all the evil ‘fast food industry.’

At least this is what the concerned stakeholders (government funded lobby groups) think. Howeverin the never-ending competition to see who’s more publicly caringrational discussion often gets tossed aside.

Takeaways are labelled as ‘bad,’ ipso facto those who sell them are also ‘bad.’ Disagreeing with this lands any dissenter ‘on their side’ and sees them denounced as ‘uncaring’ about poorinnocent fatdiabetic kids.

In Crikey (4 February 2010)Jane Martin from the Obesity Policy Coalition wrote an article bemoaning self regulation in ‘the fast food industry.’ She cites an advertisement for chicken nuggets/soft drink/free toy combo that Hungry Jack’s has been offering as an example of ‘the fox looking after the henhouse.’

The advertised meal may not be the healthy option. But does it make fast food chains somehow predatory and evil? No. Does it mean fast food chains are responsible for childhood obesity rates? No. Does it somehow mean parents hold less responsibility to feed their children a balanced diet? No.

The power of claims about the inherent ‘badness’ of the fast food industry lies not in the assertion but in the appeal to emotionto good and evilto right and wrongof some cosmic battle between money hungry capitalists and fearless defenders of the poor downtroddenburger-loving proles.

This plays to emotions such as compassion and fearand it is as professional as it is effective. In both New Zealand and Australiathe heads of major obesity action groups are professionals many of whom formerly led anti-smoking groups: another good versus evil campaign.

With the ‘sin’ of smoking now largely purged from public sightit makes you wonder which is more important: the cause or the battle against some invented goliath?

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studiesdated February 5. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92St LeonardsNSWAustralia 1590.

Aerobic exercise can be 'a waste of time'

Once againit all depends on your genes

MILLIONS of people who try to keep fit by joggingcycling or going to the gym could be wasting their timea study revealed today. The international researchled by the University of Londonfound that aerobic exercise does not benefit everyone in equal measuresand its usefulness is determined by a person's genes. According to the resultspublished in the Journal of Applied Physiology today20 per cent of people do not receive any health benefits from aerobic exercise.

The studywhich stretched from London to Ontariosaw an international team of researchers from 14 institutions examine the human genome to find a way of predicting who would benefit the most from exercise. The work built on the belief among researchers that one of the best predictors of health was a body’s ability to take in and use oxygen during maximum exercise. In theory the more blood a heart can pumpand the more oxygen muscles usethe less risk there would be of early disease and death.

James Timmons of the Royal Veterinary College at the University of Londonwho headed the studysaid aerobic exercise would not help certain people ward off heart diseasediabetes and other potential ailments.

Mr Timmons argued this new research could help advance and improve healthcare. “If a patient is not likely to benefit much from aerobic exercisethe physician could turn to other types of exercise or alternative therapies. This would be one of the first examples of personalisedgenomic-based medicine,” he said. Alternative types of exercise include anaerobic pursuits such as weightliftingpush-ups and pull-ups.

Participants in the study were asked to undergo rigorous aerobic trainingwhile researchers took muscle tissue samples before and after. Using new procedures the team then identified a set of about 30 genes that predicted the increase of oxygen their body consumed. By the end of the study 20 per cent saw their maximum oxygen increase by less than five per cent. About 30 per cent showed no increase in insulin sensitivitymeaning that the exercise did not reduce their risk of diabetes.

“We know that low maximal oxygen consumption is a strong risk factor for premature illness and deathso the tendency is for physicians and public health experts to automatically prescribe aerobic exercise to increase oxygen capacity," Mr Timmons said. "Our hope is that before too longthey will be able to target that prescription just to those who may stand a greater chance of benefitingand prescribe more effective preventive or therapeutic measures to the others,” he added.

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