The sour side of teens’ sug­ary diet

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Tim Slater

TEENAGE boys con­sume a stag­ger­ing 23 tea­spoons of sugar daily from drinks and food, an av­er­age of 92 grams a day, ac­cord­ing to a new se­ries of a re­port cards on Aus­tralian health.

Aus­tralia’s Health Tracker shows al­most 30 per cent of young peo­ple are over­weight or obese and 91.5 per cent are not do­ing enough phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

The assess­ment of the na­tion’s de­clin­ing health also found that al­most 40 per cent of young peo­ple’s to­tal daily en­ergy con­sump­tion comes from junk food.

Rex Mil­li­gan, man­ager of Food­bank WA’s Healthy Food for All, said the find­ings high­lighted some of the sig­nif­i­cant health risks that its nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams aimed to ad­dress.

“We have a team of qual­i­fied di­eti­tians, nu­tri­tion­ists and health pro­mo­tion staff who de­liver a range of hand­son, prac­ti­cal healthy eat­ing and cook­ing classes to sup­port chil­dren and young adults to make bet­ter food choices,” Mr Mil­li­gan said.

“We also pro­vide pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and train­ing to other health pro­fes­sion­als to help us ex­pand our reach, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.”

Aus­tralian Health Pol­icy Col­lab­o­ra­tion di­rec­tor Rose­mary Calder said risk fac­tors en­coun­tered dur­ing child­hood and ado­les­cence could lead to in­creased risk of chronic dis­ease.

“We ur­gently need ac­tion to help pre­vent chronic dis­eases in Aus­tralian chil­dren and young peo­ple and im­prove their health across the life­course,” Ms Calder said.

More than 50 health or­gan­i­sa­tions worked to­gether on Aus­tralia’s Heath Tracker – the first assess­ment of its kind – to warn gov­ern­ments and in­dus­tries that im­me­di­ate ac­tion is needed to fight chronic dis­ease. AL­MOST 40 per cent of peo­ple with a fam­ily his­tory of ill­ness refuse to be tested, with many cit­ing fear of a pos­i­tive re­sult, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey.

An Am­cal Con­sumer Health Barom­e­ter sur­vey had 39 per cent of re­spon­dents say they had not been checked for dis­eases such as di­a­betes and chronic kid­ney dis­ease de­spite a ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion, with a fear of bad re­sults, dis­like of med­i­cal tests and not feel­ing sick among the big­gest de­ter­rents.

Se­nior phar­ma­cist James Nevile said it was a con­cern­ing fig­ure, with both dis­eases hav­ing few symp­toms in the early stages, which made early di­ag­no­sis even more im­por­tant.

The sur­vey also showed few un­der­stood how di­a­betes was caused, with half of re­spon­dents hav­ing never heard of ges­ta­tional di­a­betes and 10 per cent in­cor­rectly as­sum­ing they had to be over­weight or obese to de­velop the con­di­tion.

Mr Nevile said while many have heard of di­a­betes, the con­di­tion was ac­tu­ally a group of dif­fer­ent dis­eases with a va­ri­ety of causes, which could con­trib­ute to the con­fu­sion sur­round­ing it.

With Na­tional Di­a­betes Week run­ning un­til July 16, Mr Nevile said any­one con­cerned about the dis­ease should talk to their lo­cal phar­ma­cist about test­ing and life­style ad­vice.

Visit www.di­a­betes aus­tralia.com.au or www.di­a­beteswa.com.au.

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