Monday, November 25, 2013

Sugar Under Fire for Unhealthy Youth in Australia

As various substances and habits have come under fire for being unhealthy, sugar has merged as one of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor health. And, new data released by an investment bank shows that concern over excessive sugar consumption is mounting. And, they say this could impact on adversely on food manufacturers. One of the biggest concerns about the sugar craze is that children are being negatively affected. Processed foods, junk foods and sweetened beverages are being advertised all over the place and the country’s kids are getting unhealthier. This, in turn, is putting extra pressure on the already over-exerted public health system. Now, taking control of our health and of the health of our loved ones is one way to reduce our dependence on the public health system. While we all need to run a health insurance comparison in order to find a policy that will help keep our families safe and healthy, the less we need to use it, the lower our premiums are. And, of course, prevention is always better than cure. The best way to keep our kids healthy is to teach them right from a young age.

If you thought you did not have a sweet tooth you might be surprised to know that the chocolate and confectionary industries are responsible for generating $6.2 billion in Australia every year. Soft drinks pull in $35 billion. But, of course, it does not stop at chocolates and fizzy cool drinks. It is everything processed, including packaged pastas and cereals and biscuits that contain excessive amounts of sugar.

Those lobbying against excessive sugar content say that food products need to be branded with loud, visible warnings, just like tobacco products if they are going to discourage people from consuming them. They also say that, in the not too distant future, manufacturers of high sugar foods could be sued by public health providers. We might not be there yet but we could get there if the past suits on tobacco and fast food industries are anything to go by.

Of course the research shows that high sugar consumption is associated with an increase in body weight. It is also more likely to settle in the abdominal area and around the liver when it comes from sugar and may contribute to diabetes. Disturbingly, the door for extra sugar was left open by manufacturers selling low fat and fat free products, in an effort to make them tastier. The experts say that, to date, nutritional guidelines have not taken sugar consumption into account but that it is critical in managing public health going forward.

The youth are among those who tend to be taken in by sweeten foods and beverages, but the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia is using community members as ambassadors as part of its social media marketing campaigns. The Council says that social media platforms have become incredibly valuable for reaching out to younger members of the community and to promote good health. The Council has employed ambassadors to promote the merits of physical exercise, healthy eating habits and to abstain from smoking.

The Council has also gone to considerable lengths to select credible ambassadors who can connect meaningfully with communities. As well as being respected in their communities, the ambassadors also have to be committed to the cause they are supporting. Furthermore, they also need to meet the gender, age and social background criteria to be successful in their roles.

Some of the campaigns being used to target the youth include sexual health programs and anti-maternal smoking programmes. The Council encourages the ambassadors to talk about their own experiences when educating others, as teenagers tend to rebel against being told what to do.

Going forward, the council says it would like to focus on immunisations and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder within the Aboriginal communities and promote health check ups for kids and teenagers. The Council says good health can only be achieved in the Aboriginal communities if the community members remain in control of their health and are fully engaged in policies and campaigns. The Council says it would still like to see more Aboriginals employed as trained health workers and engaging directly in community health programmes.

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