A comprehensive review of clinical trials involving a wide range of popular dietary supplements has found that with the exception of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, there is little evidence to support their use in Western countries by the general population.
Dietary supplements are big business, with around half of the Australian population using at least one type per year; most commonly a multivitamin and mineral pill. Many people take supplements as a form of dietary insurance in case they are not meeting their nutrient needs from foods alone. Others take them as a form of health insurance – to protect against certain diseases. Some just take them out of habit.
Supplements do have a role to play in some situations. People with a diagnosed deficiency, those with malabsorption conditions, women planning pregnancy, and people with very poor diets all can benefit from specific nutrient supplementation.
It is the question that underpins the search to find an answer to the obesity problem: what drives us to eat? No matter what a person’s genetic profile, environment or activity levels, eating more food than what the body needs to meet its energy demands results in just one outcome: weight gain.
Pervasive food marketing and 24 hour access to cheap, energy-dense food are important drivers of making us eat more. Other factors such as lack of sleep, endocrine disorders, air conditioners (which reduce the energy needed by the body to regulate temperature), and even increasing maternal age are just some of a long list of factors that can each explain a small part of the weight gain problem.
Medical-legal partnerships have broken down the barriers to accessible legal services for people experiencing health issues in the United States. Such programs demonstrate the health benefits of effective legal advocacy on behalf of patients and Australia could learn from this model to improve access to justice and deliver better health outcomes.
In the search for the solution to the growing waistlines of Australians, many popular diets have been tried and eventually discarded. There are literally hundreds of dieting books and programs to choose from, with many popular ones substantially departing from mainstream nutrition and medical advice.
So should it be low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein, low-glycaemic index, small meals or any one of a myriad of other popular dieting approaches? The scientific jury is now firmly in with dozens of high-quality randomised controlled trials showing that no one dieting option is the magic solution for everyone.
State of the evidence
Apart from some short-term success for particular approaches, mostly low-carbohydrate diets, all of the popular dieting approaches fare poorly in terms of weight loss, weight maintenance and adherence once the 6-month milestone is passed.
There is a lot we know about the best food and lifestyle choices to help someone lower the risk of developing cancer. But what about once a person has cancer? New nutrition and physical activity guidelines give the best advice for what cancer survivors should aim for.
Thanks to earlier detection and much better treatment options, cancer today is certainly not a death sentence. Well over half of people diagnosed will be alive after 5 years.
Searching for the best way to lose weight? Should the emphasis be on diet, or can the solution be found in the gym? Well, the answer lies somewhere in between.
In the red corner of the weight-loss title fight, sits the dieting contender. On the surface, dieting would appear to have the edge, because no matter what a person’s genetic makeup and metabolism, anyone who stops eating is guaranteed to lose weight.
Starvation, though, is not a dieting option to be recommended or one that is sustainable. So should it be low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein, low-GI, small meals or any one of a myriad other popular dieting approaches?
The scientific jury is now firmly in, with dozens of high-quality, randomised controlled trials showing that no one dieting option is the magic solution for everyone.
The connection between sugar and hyperactivity is one of the most popular food-behaviour myths going around, yet it is one that has been well and truly busted by science. Where there’s sugar, there must be hyperactive kids – or so says conventional wisdom. Science says otherwise.
Any parent would tell you that seeing children fuelling up on sugar-laden cake, lollies and soft drinks at a birthday party is a sure-fire recipe for a bunch of rampaging hyperactive kids
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has just finished hearing submissions in a case against McDonald’s opening an outlet in the town of Tecoma. The case is part of a growing trend of councils recognising the insidious impact of fast food on their communities and refusing permission on public health grounds.
It was brought by the multinational fast-food corporation after Yarra Ranges Shire Council declined to grant the company a planning permit to build. The campaign against the proposal was spearheaded by the local Tecoma Village Action Group and their efforts resulted in over 1,100 individual objections being sent to the council.
As Australians, our home is known as the 'lucky country'. We learnt recently that five of
But not everyone in the world is so lucky.
When you walk into Hungry Jacks, or McDonalds, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and order your Whopper Value Meal, Big Mac Value Meal, or Ultimate Burger Meal, what does 1430kj, 2590kj and 3800kj (approx.) mean to you? Probably not very much.
But, instead of esoteric energy counts, what if you were confronted with something more comprehensible, like 75 minutes of sprinting (Medium Whopper Value Meal), or a 2 hour game of squash (Large Big Mac Value Meal), or, perhaps 5 hours of fast swimming (Ultimate Burger Meal)? Would you think again about buying all that food?
I think you would.