Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Social workers condemn fast food

Now that's REAL expertise for you. That a Big Mac meal consists of meat, salad, bread and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet -- seems to have escaped these fluffy-heads. They should be congratulating Maccas for feeding the poor so well and so cheaply

UNHEALTHY lifestyles dominated by fast-food diets are killing 1700 Queenslanders a year and costing taxpayers billions, a new report reveals. The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) report found battlers forced to live on takeaways, because they couldn't afford fresh food, were having their life spans reduced by an average of four years.

The state's health bill could be cut by nearly $2 billion a year if more was done to help struggling families get healthier food and live a better lifestyle, the report said.

QCOSS president Karyn Walsh said poor families had come to rely on fast food because it was cheap, easy and available. She said many mums were faced with searching for a meal with just $5 in their pockets. "You can't walk into a fruit and vegetable shop and get a meal for that," Ms Walsh said. "Even if you are vegetarian you need more money.

"Grabbing something quick from a fast-food store for under $5 would seem like a good option, but it's not the best option health-wise. "Fast food is supposed to be a supplement to a healthy diet, not your diet itself."

Fast-food companies are pushing family value deals – with McDonald's advertising a pack to feed four people for less than $20. One pizza advertisement features a family in front of a mound of pizza ingredients before suggesting it is quicker, easier and cheaper to buy the meal from them.

But without fresh food, particularly fruit and vegetables, other health problems only became worse, Ms Walsh said. [Rubbish! Quite recent research shows otherwise]

In disadvantaged areas, it was often fast-food shops that were the last to close, whereas shops selling healthy food were hard to find, she said.

A survey by Queensland Health in 2006 found it would cost $457 a fortnight to feed a family of six adequately. With more than one in seven families in Brisbane surviving on less than $500 a week, thousands are struggling to find grocery money once rent is taken out, QCOSS said.

It's even tougher in Wide Bay, where more than a quarter of families try to manage on less than $500 a week. In West Moreton, the figure is one in five.

University of Queensland lecturer Dr Paul Henman said low income earners had little option but to swap healthy food for cheaper, filling – but less healthy – options. "Fresh fruit and vegetables have risen quite significantly in recent years," he said.

The QCOSS report said the Queensland hospital budget could save more than $1.9 billion a year by tackling the underlying causes of ill health among the state's battlers. [Based on provably false assumptions]

In some lower socio-economic areas, obesity rates were double the state average and smoking rates were 90 per cent higher. And alcohol abuse was killing 80 per cent more people, the report said.

But Aloysa Hourigan, from Nutrition Australia, said the argument that fast food was cheaper than home-cooked meals was false. The nutritionist said families could find healthy meals that were cheaper than takeaway options, but it took time and planning.

She said that aside from hot chips, takeaways were more expensive than home-cooked meals, despite what the fast-food advertisements suggested. "The marketing around a lot of fast food is about 'two for the price of one', or feed your family for so much money. "They are cheaper types of food that are high in salt and sugar," she said. [How awful! But both are very common natural products]


How olive oil helps 'switch off' genes which lead to conditions including heart disease and arthritis (?)

This is all based on a tiny sample of very ill people. Generalizability probably nil. It's another example of the "Mediterranean" mania. No-one mentions that Australians live longer than Greeks etc. despite having an almost opposite diet

Olive oil's health-giving benefits stem from its ability to help 'switch off' genes that inflame conditions ranging from heart disease to arthritis, claim researchers. Their discovery shows how the much-praised Mediterranean diet can suppress chronic disorders.

Spanish researchers identified almost 100 genes whose inflammatory activity is dampened by consumption of olive oil, in particular extra virgin olive oil.

Greeks are the biggest consumers of olive oil in the world - eating 20 times more than Britons - while Italians eat ten times as much. Eating healthy mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil is known to lower the risk of heart disease.

In Britain, which has one of the highest heart attack rates in the world, much higher levels of animal or saturated fats are eaten.

In the study, 20 patients with metabolic syndrome, which puts them at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, were asked to eat breakfast foods covered in two types of olive oil. One was extra virgin olive oil high in phenol compounds - natural antioxidants - while the other type of oil had low levels of phenols.

The volunteers had to avoid drugs, vitamins and other supplements for six weeks before the study started.

Dr Francisco Perez- Jimenez, from the University of Cordoba, said: 'We identified 98 differentially expressed genes when comparing the intake of phenol-rich olive oil with low-phenol olive oil. 'Several of the repressed genes are known to be involved in pro-inflammatory processes, suggesting the diet can switch the activity of immune system cells.'

Olive oil contains omega-6 fats, a form of 'healthy' polyunsaturates known to block the body's response to inflammation in chronic conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.

But the latest study, whose findings are published today in the science journal BMC Genomics, provides a gene-related explanation for some of the anti-inflammatory effect.

Dietitians say a Mediterranean diet also appears to improve vascular function - the flexibility of cells lining the walls of blood vessels, particularly in the heart and circulatory system.

Eating meat increases the risk of bladder cancer, according to research by scientists at the University of Texas. Xifeng Wu, the 12-year study's lead author, said: 'People who eat a lot of red meat, particularly well-done red meat, seem to have a higher likelihood of bladder cancer.'

More than 10,000 Britons are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year.


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