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The true cost of sugar is more than its price | Letters

04/10/2017 Letters 0

Alison Tedstone of Public Health England says that the food industry must put any savings made from the falling price of sugar into research against its damaging effects on health. Michael Tribe says we must consider the impact of sugar prices on developing countries

In response to your article (Beet that: sugar prices set to fall as EU quotas abolished, 29 September), whether sugar costs pennies or pounds, the food industry knows the government target – 20% – on how much of it they need to reduce from their products by 2020. We are monitoring industry progress against these targets and will report on it in spring. The fact remains that children eat too much sugar and it causes weight gain, which can lead to bullying, low self-esteem and tooth decay. Excess weight in childhood also increases the risk of becoming an overweight or obese adult, which will increase the likelihood of developing a range of cancers, heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. If the food industry is about to save money on sugar, it will hopefully make more resource available for research into innovative ways to make products healthier.
Dr Alison Tedstone
Chief nutritionist, Public Health England

• The article by Richard Partington is remarkable in discussing the implications of EU sugar production and pricing policy for the UK and EU economies, but completely fails to mention the implications for world sugar trade and particularly for the potential impact on lower-income countries. There was space in the print version of the Guardian for a large photograph of a pile of sugar, but no space for any reference to the role of the sugar trade on the welfare of developing countries. This, of course, is consistent with the EU switch of major responsibility for policy relating to developing countries’ trade matters from the directorate of development to the directorate of trade. Perhaps we can look forward to another article in the near future which deals with the wider implications of changes in EU policy on the sugar market for global trade and development issues?
Michael Tribe
Glasgow

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Don’t just blame sugar: how obesity can be a product of childhood trauma

27/09/2017 Maia Szalavitz 0

Emotional, physical or sexual abuse can lie at root of weight problems in later life and, unless targeted, taxes on food types will be cruel to those who self-medicate

• Outclassed: The Secret Life of Inequality is our new column about class. Read all articles here

Trinity Wallace-Ellis first recalls associating food with consolation when she was about eight. Her heroin-addicted father could explode in violence, sometimes beating her and her seven younger sisters. Afterwards, he was always regretful – and Trinity would come home from school to find a refrigerator filled with cakes and pies.

“From that point, I think, is when I equated food with comfort and food as a way of making things right,” she says.

Related: Our new TV antiheroes are just like us: they don’t want to fall out of the middle class

Related: Why do we think poor people are poor because of their own bad choices?

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Why does obesity cause diabetes? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Thomas Barber

27/09/2017 Thomas Barber 0

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

‘Cause” is a strong word. It means that A results in B happening. Causality is also surprisingly difficult to prove. Most medical studies only show association between A and B, while causality often remains speculative and frustratingly elusive. Obesity and diabetes are no exception.

There are many types of diabetes. All are unified by elevated levels of blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes accounts for less than 10% of cases and results from autoimmune destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce and release insulin. (In an autoimmune process, antibodies that normally target and fight infection instead target one’s own cells). Type 3c (secondary) diabetes can occur when there has been destruction of the pancreatic beta cells through some other process, such as excessive alcohol, inflammation or surgical resection.

Related: Thank you, Diane Abbott, for speaking out about your diabetes | Ann Robinson

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Body’s ‘bad fat’ could be altered to combat obesity, say scientists

19/09/2017 Press Association 0

By blocking a particular protein, unhealthy ‘white’ fat could be transformed into calorie-burning ‘beige’ fat, experiments show

“Bad fat” could be made to turn over a new leaf and combat obesity by blocking a specific protein, scientists have discovered.

Most fat in the body is unhealthy “white” tissue deposited around the waist, hips and thighs. But smaller amounts of energy-hungry “brown” fat are also found around the neck and shoulders. Brown fat generates heat by burning up excess calories.

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Poorest London children face health risks from toxic air, poverty and obesity

19/09/2017 Matthew Taylor 0

Schools in capital worst affected by air pollution are in most socially deprived areas with high levels of obesity, finds study

Tens of thousands of the poorest children in London are facing a cocktail of health risks including air pollution, obesity and poverty that will leave them with lifelong health problems, according to a new report.

The study found that schools in the capital worst affected by the UK’s air pollution crisis were also disproportionately poor, with high levels of obesity.

Related: London’s most polluted schools to be given air-quality audits

Related: UK must get tough on childhood obesity, says top doctors

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On your bike! Why Britain needs to do more to get children cycling

16/09/2017 Peter Walker 0

Learning to ride is a wonderful milestone for children and promotes good health in later life, but the UK is lagging behind

Stored away on my phone is a brief video showing the day, a few years ago, when my son first learned to ride a pedal bike – more precisely, the moment he gained sufficient confidence for me to stop hovering and record the historic event for posterity.

Looking back at the footage, what struck me was the meandering route he plotted. But this wasn’t beginner’s wobbling – it was a deliberate decision to cycle through as many puddles as possible, thus creating the biggest possible splashes.

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Cookery courses for obese people are pointless, and ministers know it | Hugh Muir

15/09/2017 Hugh Muir 0

Ministers know the solution to the obesity crisis, it’s the same as how they weaned Britain off smoking. They have to dare to be a ‘nanny state’

Let’s not be unreasonable: governments can’t control everything. Systems fail. Events creep up. But it’s a matter of legitimate concern when risks are known, quantified and still inadequately addressed.

As a society we have a complex relationship with risk, straddling the law, politics and commerce. Many will say the risks taken by individuals with their own health and safety is their own affair; indeed, that the right to take risks is our liberal, democratic birthright. But one might argue just as reasonably that when an individual gambles unsuccessfully, it is society that suffers the repercussions – the health costs, the opportunity costs, the resources expended – and that communities, represented by government, have the right to limit their exposure.

The least effective way to deter people from taking risks is to warn them off

Related: Children living near fast food outlets more likely to gain weight – study

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