Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ritalin junkies warning

Prescribing Ritalin to children could be breeding a generation of junkies. The drug, commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may be wiring children's brains for amphetamine addiction later in life.

Addiction expert Andrew Lawrence, from Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute, has found that amphetamines given to adolescent rats put them at greater risk of addiction in adulthood.

This means the 50,000 Australian children who take Ritalin -- an amphetamine-like stimulant with a similar chemical structure to cocaine, may be at risk. "We found that when a teenage rat is given amphetamines and then, after abstinence, has the drug again as an adult, they have a more sensitised reaction, opening the door for addiction," he said.

The researchers found adult rats became more susceptible to heart attack after this pattern of drug-taking. This year it was reported that children as young as five had suffered heart attacks after taking Ritalin.

The above article appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on October 22, 2006

Meat good for you, say Australian science experts

The first edition of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has knocked The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter off the top of the Australian bestseller list. Its sequel, launched yesterday, is expected to be as popular. A feature of the revised scientific diet book, which recommends a high-protein meat diet, is a comprehensive six-week exercise program.

The sequel was launched in Sydney by Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training Julie Bishop and CSIRO chief executive Dr Geoff Garrett, who spoke about his own weight loss after using the book's methods. Mrs Bishop said Australians had a long way to go in terms of getting fit. She said 30 per cent of Australians under 25 had high blood pressure and more than half the population was overweight. "Sixty per cent of an adult population [being overweight] in a country like Australia with magnificent weather and the opportunity to be outdoors and be physically fit is just not acceptable," Mrs Bishop said. She said insufficient physical activity caused about 8000 preventable deaths annually and cost the health budget $400 million each year.

The authors of the book, which recommends a 12-week eating plan, Dr Manny Noakes and Dr Peter Clifton, warned Australia would struggle to deal with a looming health crisis. Dr Grant Brinkworth, who developed the exercise regime, demonstrated stretches to be used in conjunction with the diet tips.

Criticisms that the first book recommended a diet that was overly based on red meat are answered in a chapter titled "Is red meat a risk factor for colorectal cancer". "The evidence that eating red meat, or any single food, is a risk for colorectal cancer is weak at best, compared to the proven negative effects of being overweight and inactive," the book states.

Recipes range from corn fritters with smoked salmon and spinach to lamb biryani.


Youth obesity blamed on lack of exercise

The federal government has accused schools of contributing to child obesity by cutting back on physical education. State governments claimed federal parliamentary secretary for health Christopher Pyne was trying to shift the blame when he called on them to reintroduce compulsory sport in schools. They said sport and physical education were already mandatory at primary and secondary school level.

But Mr Pyne accused the state Labor governments of being "cute" in defining sport and said they were not promoting inter-school competition and after-school practice. "Their definition of what they regard as compulsory school sport is different to the traditional inter-school sporting competition and after-school activity," Mr Pyne said. "Some schools include drama, human movement and dance in their physical activity. "And if what the states are doing is adequate, why has the federal government had to introduce a $90 million after-school-hours activity program in state schools?"

Mr Pyne said the states' assessment of their commitment to school sport should not include the two hours of physical activity they must prove their schools are doing to qualify for commonwealth funding. Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia conference in Sydney, he said the state Labor governments had been misdirecting the blame for the obesity problem. "Labor has been diverting the blame, pointing the finger at fatty foods while slashing funding to exercise programs in schools and moving away from compulsory physical education as part of the curriculum," he said. "We need to bring back school sports and compulsory physical education."

NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said her state's schools were playing their part, but she used the commonwealth's two-hour minimum as the benchmark. "It is mandatory for primary school students to complete 120 minutes of planned physical activity each week and students in Years 7 to 10 complete an estimated 80 minutes a week," Ms Tebbutt said. "Students in Years 7 to 11 also participate in 80 to 120 minutes of school sport each week." Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said Mr Pyne's comments were another example of shifting blame to the states. He said Queensland was doing more than any other state to tackle childhood obesity through its Eat Well and Get Active programs. Rather than blaming states for not doing enough, the federal government should legislate to restrict television advertisements for junk food, he said. "Instead we have a federal government pointing the finger at everybody else," Mr Beattie said. A Victorian government spokesman said sport and physical education had been in the curriculum at government schools for several years. And in the Northern Territory, Education Minister Paul Henderson said students spend about half-an-hour exercising each day.

Federal opposition health spokeswoman Julia Gillard, also speaking at the CEDA conference, responded to Mr Pyne's claims that Labor was focusing on food rather than exercise in typical schoolyard style. "Well, der, of course it's both," Ms Gillard said.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].


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