By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
The other day I attended a workshop was to discuss the growing threat of diabetes and some of the information I want to share because it was generally agreed that most people at risk of diabetes are quite unaware of the health consequences and despite carrying a few too many kilos, think it's something that happens to other people. Every 5 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with diabetes.
Let me share some stats with you
There are 3 times more people with diabetes in Australia now than there were 25 years ago.
One in four people over the age of 25 years has diabetes or pre-diabetes.
What are the health consequences of diabetes? (source WHO Int)
Diabetes complications are divided into microvascular (due to damage to small blood vessels) and macrovascular (due to damage to larger blood vessels).
Microvascular complications include damage to eyes (retinopathy) leading to blindness, to kidneys (nephropathy) leading to renal failure and to nerves (neuropathy) leading to impotence and diabetic foot disorders (which include severe infections leading to amputation).
Macrovascular complications include cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and insufficiency in blood flow to legs.
The good news is …..
An average weight loss of 4 kg will prevent most people getting diabetes.
An average weight loss of 2 kg will reduce the conversion of people with pre diabetes to diabetes to 30%.
At yesterday's meeting I was struck at how much the conversation revolved around exercise and much less on food and diet. Probably because the battle to change people's eating habits away from cheap convenience food is the greatest challenge of all.
A very eminent professor in the group discussed the importance of legislation. He said, for real change to occur, legislation must be passed. Take smoking as an example. As evidence of the health effects from smoking mounted, health authorities and the media increased their pressure on governments to introduce tougher tobacco controls. That legislation has taken Australia's consumption of tobacco and cigarettes to an all-time low. (ABS Tobacco expenditure 2012 $3,508 billion, 2014 $3.405)
I'm sure our government will eventually introduce a sugar consumption tax. Most likely they will follow the lead of Mexico and the UK and tax soft drinks to start with. Eventually it would be great if they introduced a tax on all packaged foods with sugar and better still make it a sliding scale - 10% on products with 10% or less sugar per 100 g, and 20% on products with more than 10%.
Eventually they may have to. Health authorities and media pressure aside, if this situation continues on trend, they'll have to introduce new taxes to cover the anticipated increased expenditure for type 2 diabetes in Australia over the next 20 years. The projected change in expenditure is believed to escalate from $1 billion to over $7 billion!
How many of you remember the Benneton Magazine - Colors?
I will never forget a 1994 issue on war. It was set out like most fashion and lifestyle magazines except it was all about war. There were illustrated weapon catalogues, fashion pages showing the latest combat gear, snap shots of military and government officials shopping for tanks, but what has stayed with me all these years was an article on how warfare is not about killing the most number of people; it's about permanently maiming the most number of people.
The cost to treat the injured, places a far greater economic strain on the country over the long term.
It strikes me that unless something is done soon Australia will lose a battle against itself.
Legislation won't happen tomorrow. And until it does everyone with a voice who cares enough about this subject can play an active role to show people what good food is and teach them what to do with it.
Good health and weight loss is 80% about what goes into your mouth. Changing behaviour is the hardest thing to do and it takes determination, discipline and planning. If you enjoy good tasting healthy food part of the battle is won, but there will be times when you haven't made time to shop or you're too tired to bother. I have these days too. Just remember, whatever you decide to do in your mind, you take your body with you.
Make good choices whatever you do. Your body needs you to and so does your country!