Food matters

By Eugene Clark and Lisa Chambers
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 31, 2014
Adjust font size:

In the West with the celebration of Christmas and increasingly in Asian countries, too, the holiday season means eating lots of unhealthy food. This is followed by New Year resolutions to lose weight.

Over the past ten years and as I have entered my 60's, I have put on excess weight. Muscle mass has declined, metabolism has slowed as I have until recently paid little or no attention to diet. That has all changed since I was converted to the importance of nutrition by my co-author and youngest daughter who became a nationally accredited "personal trainer" and embarked upon her master's degree in nutrition.

Armed with more awareness about the importance of food, in a few months, not only have I lost weight, but also reduced cholesterol, lowered my blood pressure and made me, my doctor and my family happy. I've also become increasingly aware of the importance of nutritional choices and the role of good nutrition in both our individual and society's future.

Now going on my third year of full time employment in China, I am aware that China is not only fast becoming older, but also fatter. China, like the U.S. and Australia, is unfortunately on the verge of a childhood obesity crisis. Our plea in this article is that China and its citizens act now to deal with what is rapidly becoming a major health problem around the world.

According to the UN World Health Organization Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, 42 million infants around the world were overweight or obese. It is estimated this number will rise to 70 million by 2025. In Australia, obesity outranks smoking as a public health issue. Obese children are more likely to develop a range of health problems as adults. These include: cardiovascular disease; insulin resistance which is often an early sign of impending diabetes; various musculoskeletal disorders, e.g.: osteoarthritis - a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints); various cancers (endometrial, breast and colon); and disability.

The causes of obesity are complex and multifactorial with multiple "downstream" interventions required to adjust the current obesogenic environment. There are numerous interventions to consider, but also a need to take into account the evidence of their effectiveness and the cost and ease of implementation. Public health and consumer groups tend to advocate for a combination of regulatory approaches to alter the food supply and behavioral approaches to promote behavior change. Governments tend to favor approaches that encourage rather than mandate change as well as those directed at individual behavior change.

The good news is that overweight children and adults and obesity are largely preventable. The most effective preventive measure is monitoring growth patterns in childhood and taking appropriate steps if weight shows a tendency to exceed height on centile charts. In the treatment of obesity in childhood, two factors need to be stressed. First, very low-energy diets are not suitable for the growing child as it is difficult to ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients. Food intakes should therefore be sufficient to provide an adequate protein, vitamin and mineral intake. Second, increased physical activity in children, as opposed to decreased energy consumption, may be a more effective.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   3   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from