July 13, 2009

The Fat of the Land

So its finally happened, I am posting about obesity on this blog. Some people, one in particular who shall remain nameless, will be thrilled.

I found this article on Chemistry World News this morning, which seemed quite timely considering the recent news of NZ's apparent obesity problem. Scientists have found a synthetic peptide molecule (a short chain of amino acids) that possesses key features of two natural hormones which are involved in regulating glucose metabolism and appetite control. When injected into obese mice, after one week the animals' body weights had decreased by 25 per cent and their body fat by 42 per cent. Kind of like The Nutty Professor in real life!

While research like this paves the way for improvement in many areas of human health, I am still a big fan of preventative measures. New technology can then be introduced, arming us with a number of tools in the fight. The link between obesity and diabetes, heart disease and stroke is well documented, and so it kind of annoys me that Health Minister Tony Ryall has commented here that the Government planned to announce programmes "around physical activity" and sports "in due course", when upon being elected one of the first things the National Party did was cut advertising for the very successful "Push Play" program by SPARC, and remove restrictions on the kinds of foods tuck shops can sell in schools. Like smoking, what is needed isn't an initial blitz, but a sustained approach.

It has been suggested that obesity has addictive elements just like alcoholism, drug abuse and smoking do. We are bombarded everyday by advertising about how drinking or smoking is harmful, yet where are the advertisements telling us that if we eat too many Whopper's or KFC Quarter Packs we will increase our risk of developing diabetes? Not to mention we have to run for something like 10km to work it off! Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise, yet McDonald's can advertise just before dinner during children's TV shows. Or when we buy a bottle of wine it is taxed at a high rate to counter the health costs due to irresponsible behaviour of a few, yet this doesn't occur with fast food.

If this study has any substance, if our diets continue as they are, and if our Government keeps making nonsensical decisions about prevention, we will quickly end up with an obesity epidemic. Maybe this study is the wake up call we need.


  1. Go Aaron! We need people across all different sectors saying the same thing, which is exactly what you are doing, we need multi-pronged and sustained intervention rather than the narrow approach suggested by some!

  2. Selective silver spoon feeding, excuse the pun, as per usual by government. Concur Aaron: a sustained approach would also encourage those of us less tolerant towards obesity (particularly that of the more indulgent kind...) to help educate those who are less privy to this kind of information/inclination to exercise/diet appropriately. Great research however.



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