Friday, November 06, 2009

Being overweight blamed on food, as usual

The fact that obsessive "safety" rules now ban many traditional childhood activities and thus reduce exercise is rarely mentioned. And politically correct bans on anybody "winning" are very bad for sport. So it is in fact government meddling that has created much of the problem and abolishing the meddling would be the surest path to solving it

It's the weighty issue that can no longer be ignored and one that is being blamed for an alarming rise in obesity among young girls. New research released yesterday shows that tweens are wearing their food choices on their waistlines, setting themselves up to be overweight as adults and suffer major health problems such as infertility.

The muffin top, made famous by the TV show Kath and Kim, is now the norm for teen girls who are between 5-20kg overweight, with one in three girls aged between nine and 13 overweight or obese.

Health experts yesterday warned that the sensitive issue could no longer be ignored, and had been avoided in the past out of fear it could lead to eating disorders. "It is a particular age group that has been overlooked and there needs to be more focus because they are much more in control of their food choices," Associate Dean of Clinical and Molecular Medicine at Flinders University Professor Lynne Cobiac said. "If they are overweight now, most, but not all, will often go on to be overweight when they are adults and they could [COULD being the operative word. Most fat people do NOT get diabetes] develop diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. It's really important that we understand what is influencing their choices so we can help them to be healthy, and set them on the right path."

Professor Cobiac's research found that by age 12, girls are doing almost no exercise, compounding weight problems. As they grow older, girls become more body conscious, restricting meals or overeating and developing disorders. Girls fall into two dietary patterns, eating meat, fruit and vegetables - or snacks, no meat and vegetables. Those on the snack, no meat and vegetable diet eat smaller lighter meals, characterised by more cereals, chocolate, fried chips and soft drinks.

Professor Cobiac's findings, based on the 2007 National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, reveal that at least 30 per cent of girls are overweight before they enter high school. "Part of the explanation is that they are pre-pubescent and that can sometimes increase weight," she said. "What we found is that they are having a high fat diet on weekends and in school holidays." In some cases, girls were starving themselves during the school day but then "demolishing a pack of Tim Tams" when they got home.

What is concerning experts is the drastic change in girls' attitudes towards sport in high school. Paediatric nutritionist at The Children's Hospital at Westmead Susie Burrell said this was an age group that had been neglected in the past.


A truly heartening story

Doctor cures 'Baby Z' of molybdenum cofactor deficiency in medical world first. Pity about the bureaucratic hurdles, though. The baby would have done better if the drug could have been given immediately

A MELBOURNE baby given no chance of survival has amazed doctors after being saved with one of the biggest long shots in medical history. "Baby Z's" brain started virtually dissolving soon after she was born 18 months ago because she had too much toxic sulphite in her system.

But her parents and doctors refused to give in to the one-in-a-million genetic condition and stumbled on a highly experimental drug. The Herald Sun can reveal treatment began a month after she was born and within days Baby Z "woke up". "It was really like awakening - it was just bang, and she was switched on," pioneering neonatologist Dr Alex Veldman said.

Baby Z's overjoyed mother said she had grown into a happy and determined little girl. "She is absolutely delightful and as stubborn as anything - I don't know where she gets that from," she said. "She has just started saying a few words and is constantly moving around. "Every day just gets better and better. We look at her every day and just think, 'Wow'."

The first person to be cured of molybdenum cofactor deficiency - a condition that poisons the brain and kills within months of birth - Baby Z has made world medical and legal history for Monash Children's at Southern Health. The child and her parents cannot be named for legal reasons and to protect their privacy. But her relieved mother told the Herald Sun she refused to accept her daughter would die, even when told she had no chance. "(The procedure) was a tiny bit of hope but, when you have nothing, that is a lot of hope. She might have one bad gene but she has a lot of other good and strong genes."

Soon after she was born in 2008, Baby Z's toxic sulphite levels were almost 30 times higher than normal and were dissolving her brain. After three weeks looking for answers, biochemist Dr Rob Gianello found a research paper by German plant biologist Prof Gunther Schwarz describing how he had developed an experimental drug that was able to save mice with the disease in 2004. The drug had hardly been used in animals and nobody had more than an educated guess at what it would do in a human.

But Monash's Dr Alex Veldman contacted Prof Schwarz in Cologne and appealed to the hospital's ethics committee to use the drug on Baby Z. The long shot was backed because the only other option was a painful death.

The Office of the Public Advocate then called on special medical procedure powers - used just twice before - to convince the Family Court to allow the unique treatment to go ahead. Within an hour of the court's approval, Baby Z was given the drug.

Within hours of receiving her first daily dose of cPMP (cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate), tests showed Baby Z's sulphite levels immediately dropped from near 300 to below 100. Within three days they fell to the normal level of about 10.

Baby Z's neurological development is delayed due to some brain damage in the weeks it took to find the cure, but she is now improving. The full details of the treatment are now being analysed for a planned human trial of the medication at Southern Health. Victorian Public Advocate Colleen Pearce said she was thrilled everything had fallen into place for Baby Z and her family.


1 comment:

teresa42 said...

How about these researchers actually ask the teenage girls themselves why they don't do sport? I think surveys of girls have previously found that they hate wearing revealing or form-fitting uniforms as one big reason.

Teenage girls also have similar eating patterns to teenage boys, only people always joke about the boy with "hollow legs" and a healthy appetite, yet still girls are encouraged to eat sparingly, when they have just as much need of high caloric intake to fuel growth. We also have to bear in mind that these girls have also been judged fat only by BMI, which is a very silly and unscientific measure. If we saw photos of them they'd probably look like any middle-class girls since there was a middle class - nicely rounded, which was once desirable. Even the "skinny" flappers of the 20s look chubby compared to today's fashion models.