[ASC-media] Story Opportunities from Issues magazine: Diet and Health

Issues magazine science at control.com.au
Tue Sep 27 11:50:31 EST 2005

Story Opportunities from Issues magazine: Diet and Health
Issues 72, September 2005
The September edition of Issues magazine, released today, explores the
science behind the food we eat and our diets from a number of different
While obesity is now considered a major health issue, Lily O'Hara of the
University of the Sunshine Coast argues: "There is significant evidence that
demonstrates that weight is a very poor predictor of health outcomes when
other factors such as physical activity are accounted for". In fact, O'Hara
believes that it is the emphasis we put on weight that is really unhealthy,
listing "increased body dissatisfaction, eating and physical activity
disorders, and size-based bullying, harassment, violence and
Barbara Santich of The University of Adelaide points out that the problem is
more than eating too much fat or too many carbohydrates. Santich notes that
the French eat what would seem to be an unhealthy diet, but are far less fat
than Americans. The reason seems to be that "portion sizes in fast food
chains in both countries, and also in comparable restaurants, were on
average 25% larger in America. Individual-portion foods in supermarkets also
tended to be larger in America than in France."
We all know that habits can be hard to break and many of our habits are set
in school. A long-term contribution to the problem may include healthier
canteens. Rita Alvaro of the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide,
says: "Canteens can help model and reinforce healthy eating messages that
are given in the classroom. Providing healthy food in the canteen can also
help children put the healthy eating messages into practice."
Science also has a role to play, with Food Science Australia working to
create "functional foods" that do much more than just give you the energy to
get through the day. Its research covers everything from vitamin-loaded food
colouring to a process called "microencapsulation" that adds the omega-3
from fish oil to foods while removing the unpleasant smell.
A number of "fad" diets have become popular in recent years, prompting CSIRO
to use its scientific credentials to develop a healthy and effective diet
regime. Manny Noakes and Peter Clifton of CSIRO Human Nutrition explain how
they devised the best-selling CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, but prominent
nutritionist Rosemary Stanton and Gyorgy Scrinis of RMIT question the
livestock industry links funding the research behind CSIRO's diet.
The most passionate debate about food and science is about the use of
genetically modified (GM) plants as food crops. David Tribe of The
University of Melbourne argues that the threat from GM looks small compared
with the potential benefits. However, Jeremy Tager of Greenpeace argues that
the spread of untested GM crops in our food supply demonstrates that our
regulatory bodies are not up to protecting us from novel foods that may turn
out to harm our health.
It's hard to have an intelligent debate about any aspect of food when there
are so many misleading myths around. Dietician and skeptic Glenn Cardwell
decided there were just too many myths about food to tackle them all, so he
decided to concentrate on hydration and drinking. The things he uncovers
gives you some idea of the scale of what we think we know ­ but don't.
Chocolate is full of fat and sugar, but it also contains chemicals that are
believed to be good for your health. The Victorian Department of Human
Services balances the scales with an analysis of chocolate's nutritional
Issues is available by subscription only at www.issues.com.au
Stephen Luntz (Editor): 03 9500 0015, issues at control.com.au
Guy Nolch (Publisher): 03 9500 0015, science at control.com.au
Web: www.issues.com.au
Guy Nolch
Publisher, Issues
Box 2155 Wattletree Rd PO
VIC 3145 Australia
Phone 61-3-9500 0015
Fax 61-3-9500 0255
Web issues.control.com.au

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