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Pondering obesity and all that sugar

Posted by helen 
Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 14, 2016 09:49PM
Having just spent a few days in San Francisco and then a 6 hour train trip up into the mountains I am trying to understand if the extreme junk food and sugar consumption around me is what people would see while travelling in NZ or whether it is a much bigger issue here.
Daisy (14) is amazed at portion sizes and was completely shocked at dinner a night or two ago that her glass of lemonade was refilled when she had finished it without her asking or being asked. She didn't want it so left it behind. The chips that came with her burger filled one side of her plate, way more than she could possibly eat.
All around us in the train trip was the sound of tabs being popped on cans of Mountain Dew, Coke etc... and a steady trail of people coming back from the diner with hotdogs, burgers, flavoured chips etc... A wee 4 year old across the aisle of the train had silver caps on his molars but was happily drinking canned drinks and eating fast food and lollies. In our 6 hours of sitting alongside them he had 3 x cans of drink.

I can't help but wonder if at one end of the spectrum we have the worried well, those of us who nervously look at sugar content on everything we buy, but at the other end are those that either don't know or can't work out how to change.
The message just doesn't seem to be getting to those who need it most.
In my opinion a lot could be changed by just teaching parents to only give their kids water to drink.
I am appalled at the number of kids we see with large soft drinks. Daisy's lemonade at dinner was an exception not the norm.
We took our 3 kids out last night and none of them even thought to ask for anything to drink other than water...

Your thoughts?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2016 09:53PM by helen.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 14, 2016 11:26PM
I can't help but feel that food processing companies are very much to blame; they know that sugar is addictive and pile in more and more to keep the consumer coming back. It's greed that makes them do it - profits before people - and the damage began many years ago, after the austerity of the 2nd World War, when fast foods were first introduced. The public health sectors of many countries didn't foresee the dangers so nothing was done about it till it was far too late, generations need re-educating. Trying to re-educate the masses to new habits is very hard when all they've known is pre-packaged, over sweet, fat-filled food. Like all addictions (and overeating is an addiction), once begun, the slippery slope is almost impossible to reverse without a huge amount of will power, and the will to change. Plus, of course, the knowledge of how to change.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2016 11:27PM by Lorna.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 06:28AM
I think there are a number of issues here. Over the years portion sizes seem to have got bigger and bigger. I couldnt tell you the last time I ordered a main when dining out, I always order an entree as my main. It is hard now to find a simple small club sandwich for lunch everything is big. But I am a small eater so am aware other people may not find this to be the case.

Plus there is also an enormous amount of processed food around now that is full of sugar and other unpronounceable ingredients. But just because it is there it doesn't mean you have to eat it so to me the key is educating children and parents to make healthier choices and take responsibility for what they put in their and their children's mouths. How that is best done though I just don't know.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2016 07:28AM by Bev.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 06:41AM
So as I understand it, the advice today is to eat low-fat foods and keep sugar to 20-25 (6 teaspoons) per day, yet we consume more sugar due to eating low-fat.

Mainstream dietary guidelines need to be looked at as I feel they are unrealistic.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 06:56AM
I agree Plates, if you look at the labels of low fat food often the sugar content is high. Advertising foods as low fat can be misleading.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 07:19AM
We had "pudding" most nights as children and always had baking in the tins for afternoon tea and probably something in the lunch box.
My kids have sugar each day in terms of some baking or a bought biscuit or two.
However they drink water and have home cooked meals that are not processed.

It amazes me that people don't get it that you feel better when you have a large glass of water as opposed to a sweet drink and the same for healthy meal options.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 07:52AM
The thing of it is though Helen, the generation of pudding at dinner and baking in the tins (i.e. you and I) are the ones who are developing diabetes as adults. Yes, the age of onset is trending lower and lower and I firmly believe that this is due to the amount of fizz and takeaways, but also the lack of general exercise in the population. When I was younger we had one car that Dad took to work, so Mum walked to the shops and back, we walked or biked to school, we played outside after school, I did dance classes and swimming every day after school, we worked off those sugary baking/treats. But alluding to the diets we had back in the 60's and 70's isn't really helpful because a lot of those people are now adults with type 2 diabetes. Going back a bit further isn't even that helpful because people tended to die earlier from diseases we now treat and type 2 diabetes has only been a diagnosed condition since the 1959.

There is an interesting article on the subject of obesity in this month's North and South magazine.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 07:56AM
Same as Helen, we also had pudding/dessert most nights. Homemade, of course. Plus a biscuit or a slice in with school lunches. We also had cordial that seemed to have been made with a lot of sugar but when we drank it it was diluted and amounts were restricted. Most pleas of being thirsty were met with "there is water in the tap". Fizzy drinks were strictly for celebrations.
Bev is right when she stated there are a number of issues here. I also often order an entrée or a half portion for a main.
We could go on and someone would always point out something like parents (mostly mothers) being time poor. I would be the first one to agree that rushing home from work and having to do dinner before being able to relax a little can be hard and very tiring, especially if the job is left entirely to one person. That isn't a good example to set for children and some of the "bigger kids" in the home.
The comment about having a large glass of water is very relevant. I have read that thirst can often be mistaken for hunger.
Several years ago we were on a European coach tour. The group included all ages, including 4 or 5 teenagers. The first day the teens took bottles of a well known fizzy drink to quench their thirst. It was very noticeable that from the second day on, without any prompting from an adult, they chose water.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 08:32AM
Also, lets not forget the heart tick that we grew up with endorsing low-fat eating and continues to do so despite the growing number of people and medical professionals speaking out that fat is in fact good for us and cholesterol does not cause heart disease rather the volume of refined carbs and sugar that is the problem. GPs are still endorsing the low fat and cholesterol causes heart disease message, so its a matter for everyone to do as much research on the more current information and decide for themselves.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 10:40AM
There are probably 2 causes to the obesity levels currently, one our children no longer play outside, schools have banned a lot of school yard games, playstations xbox style of child entertainment has killed the great out doors for children, the fear of letting our children out of sight has stopped us encouraging the kids to go and explore the great out doors.

Food has become the fresher less processed the more expensive, cr*p processed sugar salt fat ridden has become cheap.
In some ways we've all become "privillaged" in that we can afford the life style of eating out every night, in some societies the eating out is reasonably healthy if keeping to the local dishes /eateries ie asian countries where probably most eateries are family run, eating out in the likes of the states is about keeping the big companies going, falling into the trap of promoting the fast ,fat, food industry, where they have no interest in what their food is actually doing to society, their just interested in the $$. even if they do give back to society in other ways.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 15, 2016 11:44AM
Griz Wrote:

> There is an interesting article on the subject of
> obesity in this month's North and South magazine.

Yes. Robyn Toomath's new book is coming out shortly and should be a very useful resource. I was sad to read that she's given up her association with Fight the Obesity Epidemic, sounds as if the overwhelming influence of the industrial food lobby was too much to counter.

Another interesting crusader, Aseem Malhotra, is in Australia at present and he is getting good publicity. Here's a link to one reference, a good summary.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2016 11:44AM by TPANDAV.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 12:01AM
A culmination of our history so far.

Without it, we would lack the knowledge of it. Knowing is good.

It shall come to pass.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 07:27AM
Griz yes I do get your point about our generation getting diabetes as adults but I am living in hope that there will always be room for the Edmonds cookbook and others amongst our cookbooks. I may well and truly be wrong on this and I am not sure why I am clinging to this thought that we can live in balance with a bit of sugar here and there.
It is certainly interesting following the research and seeing how vilified sugar is becoming.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 08:51AM
I think if your diet is well balanced and you are an active person then I don't believe a little sugar is going to hurt but sadly many people are having large quantities of sugar on a daily basis.
I am not sure if it just me or not but I find as I get older the less I can tolerate sugary foods. It makes me feel lousy so I have very little sugar now.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 10:35AM
But whats a balanced diet and would everyone be a normal weight. I am heading towards the thinking that nutrition requirements should be based individually (yes I know crazy), but does 80 grams of protein for someone that is 70kg really ideal for someone that is 50 kg.

I think the issue really is beyond actual sugar in foods but the addition of refined carbs like wheat flour and pasta that converts to glucose once in your system (ie more sugar), so while the politicians argue of a tax on fizzy drinks, I think individuals need to take ownership themselves. Quit sugar, refined carbs, lower protein, increase protein, eat more fat, eat less fat and see what works for you.

As for the edmonds cookbook, I guess if you eat baked goods regularly and you dont carry a lot of dangerous fat (belly fat), and your doc says theres not much wrong with you..........then I imagine those foods are fine.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 10:52AM
If I may just say that the protein amount actually is calculated according to the weight a person is. It's 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight although it's often rounded off to 1g per kg.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 12:31PM
Thanks and I found the below...

There is so much conflicting information out there that everyone is confused. Do we stick with our GPs and the govt have been telling us for years and years or do we perhaps be open to the different theories about obesity and take some action now. Theres just too much info on the internet in the form of blogs and forums to ignore in my opinion.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 01:42PM
I have never and never will stick to what my GP and the Govt tells me.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 16, 2016 05:42PM
While it sounds simplistic I tend to live by a line that I read out of a Michael Pollan book a few years ago.

"Eat food, not too much, mainly plants." To me it makes sense and fits the way I want to live.

To that lifestyle I sprinkle in a little chocolate, sometimes potato crisps and a night or two a week I have a glass of wine or two.
In terms of recommended protein etc... I just hope that what I eat encompasses what I need.
I eat quite a lot of nuts, love beans and lentils and have small portions of meat.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 17, 2016 01:14AM
helen Wrote:
...but I am living in hope
> that there will always be room for the Edmonds
> cookbook and others amongst our cookbooks. I may
> well and truly be wrong on this and I am not sure
> why I am clinging to this thought

I think it is hard for anyone who is a skilled baker, dessert maker and pastrycook to abandon these skills and to acknowledge that this whole area of food preparation, while well-intentioned, is not in the best interests of those who eat the results.

Before I learned that sugar and refined carbohydrates are not healthy I was a very keen baker, regularly made sourdough bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits, dumplings and desserts, and was proud of my skills. Everyone adored my efforts and it was a significant aspect of my identity as a cook. It seemed like an awful waste of training and experience to stop doing it. However these days, when it is a very rare occasion for me to make something sweet, I have so much more kitchen time to spend on savoury food that I don't regret the change at all. Savoury dishes certainly don't get quite the acclamation that splendid desserts did, but a spectacular composed salad will knock people's socks off.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 17, 2016 03:06AM
TPANDAV I agree. It's a dilemma given that the rise of interest in home baking has coincided with the rise of understanding about the problems of sugar. I read a study that showed that watching TV programmes about baking made people feel it was more acceptable to eat it regularly. I am not a new baker, I've done it all my life, but always sparingly for health concerns. I would love to give my loved ones more of it - they certainly love it - but I know it's more a demonstration of love not to. I feel there's no need to abandon our baking skills altogether, but very occasional treats is enough. I worry giving kids sugar every day sets up an expectation/habit of a regular intake of sweet things that does them no favours.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 17, 2016 05:28AM
For years now I have practically halved the sugar in most recipes, particularly biscuits, without noticing any difference to the finished product. It is a tip I picked up from my nieces. With home baking, which is becoming more rare in this household, at least I know what is going into the product. I am probably fortunate that I prefer savoury to sweet.
I don't like being dictated to by what is trendy at the time, that is probably why my Mother often called me Contrary Mary. I prefer to use common sense. The same for too many carbs, too much salt, too much fat or too much of anything. (Ever heard the song, "It's illegal, it's immoral or it makes you fat"?) I do worry that so many people seem to have no idea about nutrition and when I see a child with things such as donuts and a large can of some sugar overloaded drink on a regular basis, I fear for the health of that child.
Enjoy your food, eat it slowly and savour every bite. Enjoy your life. With balance you should be able to enjoy most things occasionally.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 17, 2016 10:25AM
The doc on Sunday right now is only focussing on added sugar as the cause of obesity. Nothing on the impact of refined carbs at all, so I am to assume this is solely a sugar issue.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 17, 2016 08:25PM
Interestingly while those who are educated are likely to be reducing their sugar intake it is my sweet recipes that get the most attention.
If I post a pretty sweet recipe on facebook it can get hundreds of likes and shares yet something that I think looks great and I know tastes it, but is savoury and maybe healthy, gets little attention. I wonder if we all click like and share on things that we are never going to make but have an emotional connection to, yet those recipes that we will make we just do so without shouting about it.
I don't really know.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2016 08:14AM by helen.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 18, 2016 12:17AM
Hmmmm...excuse the pun but it is certainly food for thought.

I generally read through the recipe and any comments. admitting that it was the picture that first drew me to it. If I think that it looks and sounds so good I will click like and share.

Two people, who don't know each other but are on my friends list, shared a recipe for slow cooked beef short ribs and I ended up copying the recipe because it seems like something I will probably make when the weather dictates. For me, it isn't just the delectable looking sweet things that catch my eye (probably far from it).

Mental and share all of Helen's recipes on facebook, not just the ones I am attracted to.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 18, 2016 12:32AM
That really is an interesting observation. Sweet desserts look so beautiful even immaculate. In all honesty if there was no consequence, I would rather eat a piece of chocolate cake than a plate of vegetables.

If you watched the series the big ward, nearly all the patients knew the takeaway meals were not a healthy choice, yet seemed powerless to stop it. Some of them has assigned dieticians and one was still consuming too much fruit juice after ditching a lot of the other culprits. I found that fustrating - was the patient given an upfront plan and didnt follow it or do we need to change the way help and education is given.

I know I have said this above, but I feel we are in a place where you need to educate yourself as the 'education' from the health professionals is weak or out of date. For so many people that is simply not an option either.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 18, 2016 11:03AM
I find this a poignant issue - I was raised to believe baking and sharing sweet treats was sharing and giving love. And I also have spent a long time honing my baking skills.

Like many of us I have reduced my sugar intake - but I have not quit and am fighting doing so. I am coming to accept that I have an addiction of sorts, despite having days of eating very very little.

I have cut out sweetened cereals and yoghurts. I don't drink sugary drinks (juice, soda, hot chocolate or sugar in my hot drinks). I rarely eat sweets/lollies/icecream and I try to avoid most white carbs (not always but usually), but I do have splashes of sweet chilli sauce in stir frys, and the occasional drizzle of maple syrup on porridge or french toast. And I find it hard to resist home baking if I have it, or dessert if I am offered it. I am trying not to do home baking (but the 11 year old son has started doing his own very competently). And every now and then (once every 3-4 weeks) I will buy a bar of chocolate and eat it over three days. That is where I see my addiction coming in, because it does not really agree with me.

I am keeping on keeping on. I am finding every month I am eating and wanting less and less sugar. I don't think I have lost weight because I think I have substituted the sugar with delicious cheeses.

I do think many many people are addicted to sugar and breaking it is extremely hard.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 19, 2016 02:15AM
Like you, Cheeselover, I am struggling. Back in 2013/14 I lost 23kg simply by changing my eating habits and walking every day. I looked good, I felt good. Then I spent 4 months in 2014/15 nursing my sick daughter with very little opportunity to have home cooked meals. I piled the weight back on again and it's taken me a year to get motivated enough again the start all over. I'm 3 weeks into my new efforts and every day is a little easier. I do occasionally have a treat because I think you have to give in, very briefly, just once in a while. Knowing you don't have to keep on doing it is encouraging.

Here's what I'm doing. My usual nut muesli with low fat yoghurt for breakfast. High protein shake made with tofu or raw egg, yoghurt, some fruit and chia seeds, all blitzed in 100ml or more of water. Dinner is mostly veges with no more than 120g of my chosen meat and two days a week it is completely vegetarian. On Wednesdays and Sundays I go without breakfast till lunchtime, then have my muesli for lunch. Dinner is completely vegetables; no meat, no carbs. My exercise is walking a little every day and 3 times a week I do a 10 minute routine on my rebounder. I'll increase my activity as the weeks pass. I've lost an encouraging 2.8kg so far and am determined to get back down to the 78kg I felt good on three years ago.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 19, 2016 06:31AM
My kids just have water unless we go out for dinner or to the pub, then they have orange juice or lemonade, however I was brought up on Raro and remember sticking my fingers in a Raro packet on numerous occasions. The Raro was always highly concentrated, and if not Raro, we had Ribena.

Although sugary drinks were the norm in my day, the difference I believe today, is the frequency children are having them. Daily is way too much. Perhaps once a week is OK?

We seem to live such busy lives, eating at cafes often, McDonalds used to be where you went to a birthday party once or twice a year - certainly not weekly for breakfast drive through, or even daily....

My kids would frequent a cafe, bar, restaurant, birthday party once a week so the opportunity for over eating, for high sugar fast food is unescapable.
Re: Pondering obesity and all that sugar
April 21, 2016 11:44AM
I also think that Michael Pollan's advice "Eat food. Not too much. Mainly plants" that Helen quotes hits the nail on the head. And like Marnie I've been drastically reducing sugar in baked goods and desserts for years without anyone complaining or even noticing. My blood glucose levels are slightly elevated, although I'm not overweight, so I'm cutting back even more on sugar and refined carbohydrates to see if it makes any difference. It's worth testing assumptions about how much sugar you need to make food palatable - for example I've always added a small amount of sugar to stewed fruit, assuming it needed it, but now I taste first, and am finding that ripe plums, apples and even quinces don't need any sugar at all. I'm also reading food labels far more carefully, and keeping processed food to the absolute minimum. I agree that the sweetened drinks problem is a major one, and not just for children - have you ever tried to find a non-sweetened cold drink in a cafe or pub when you wanted something non-alcoholic??
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