Fed Up!

The film Fed Up was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and since then has created controversial conversation regarding the sugar industry and childhood obesity. In addition, the film has sparked a drive to make changes to the American food industry amongst the population. It is a movie that has the power to not only inform but to inspire change to those who watch it.

A viewer of the movie and blogger for iquitsugar.com documented her reaction to the movie:

“The concept of Big Sugar and the impact of fructose on our health aren’t new to me. Still, seeing the impact that sugar has on our kids, hearing the stats all in one place, understanding the impact that advertising has on our minds (and those of our young), and seeing the way that Big Food fights hard and dirty to ensure that our governments and our researchers stay onside (the way Big Tobacco did 30 years ago) made my heart ache.

It ached for the kids in the documentary. It ached for their parents who don’t know better. And it ached for my children, who are growing up in a time of mass advertising, of mass brain-washing, mass peer pressure, and who are part of a generation that for the first time in history are predicted to die at a younger age than their parents did.” (iquitsugar.com,2014)

The movie is a wake-up call for the idle consumers of America who have doubled their sugar intake since 1980 and in turn have witnessed an epidemic of Type II diabetes. Along with the notable narrators and interviewees, the movie has successfully garnered widespread attention and also widespread education on the issue of obesity.

Although some have criticised the movie, we are inspired by the people power that has been created in the wake of its release and the inspiration it has provided to those out there that needed a wake-up call to change their diet and how they perceive food in everyday life.

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McSchools a Possibility

The Abbott government has announced a new $500,000 corporate schools trial which will allow corporate-sponsored education. A spokesperson for McDonalds has stated that the fast food chain is to begin discussions with the Federal Government about the proposal but suggests that the chain will in fact participate in the pilot.

An Education Bureaucrat for the Federal Government has suggested that fast food companies have a successful track record for delivering education programs and as such would not be ruled out of the country’s corporate schools trial.

Education Department Secretary Lisa Paul stated that at least one fast food company in Australia already has a training college:

“One of the big fast food companies that we’ve been discussing has what it calls its own university — which in our system is probably a registered training organisation. That does everything from logistics to management to Human Resources and actually offers qualifications” she said. (News.com, 2014)

The mentioned fast food company is that of McDonalds which has opened a Sydney campus for its global ‘Hamburger University’.  It is classified as a Registered Training Organisation by the government’s training website. The university offers such courses as a Diploma of Management and a Certificate III in Retail Operations.

Parliamentary secretary for Education Scott Ryan confirmed the government was not prepared to rule out allowing McDonalds to participate in its PTECH trial:

“He said McDonalds could have value teaching school students about logistics, the supply chain and other operating concerns of a large vertically integrated corporation.” (News.com,2014)

These reports suggest a horrifying possibility of the introduction of McSchools in Australia which would reverse any positive steps towards removing junk food advertising from the youth in Australia. The negative perceptions created by such partnerships is well documented and will undoubtedly lead to altered perceptions regarding the nutritional status of McDonalds as a nutritional source.

Poland Bans Junk Food in Schools

In a significant move Polish lawmakers have banned junk food in schools in an effort to reduce child obesity which has been on the increase in recent times. At the start of 2015, Polish students will be unable to purchase junk food in their schools or nearby. This ban is a major step towards curbing childhood obesity and changing the global attitude of school nutrition.

426 of the 460 seats in the Polish lower house of parliament voted in favour of the junk food ban. The bill was introduced by the PSL Polish Peasants’ Party and aims to “prevent obesity and pre-obesity in children and teenagers”. The ban works by only allowing foods which have been pre-approved on an extensive land detailed list to be supplied to children on school grounds nationwide.

In addition to the removal of these foods from schools and nearby, the bill also bans the advertising of the banned foods on campus and close to the vicinity of schools in order to curb after-school purchases. The list will be compiled with collaboration between schools and parents.

This ground-breaking bill comes due to the fact that 51% of Poland’s nation is overweight due to the latest UN statistics. As many as 29% of the nation’s 11 year olds are overweight.

“According to the latest research, poor nutrition negatively affects the psyche of children, makes them more aggressive, have more difficulty paying attention and greater problems in science,” Professor Elisabeth Jarocka-Zither of Olsztyn children’s hospital told Radio Olztyn.

As we have blogged about previously, the direct link between junk food and mental health has been taken into account in Poland and the government has taken promising action to repair the nations obesity issues. We can only hope that these types of decisions internationally help to change the perception of the issue in Australia. This is a great step towards removing junk food from the lives of our youth.

Public Health is an Investment, Not a Cost

Up-And-Coming Greens Twitterati

There was a rally in Sydney yesterday; a march against the possibility of imposing a $6 fee to visit a GP.

The costs of the healthcare system are “spiralling out of control,” according to the Abbott government. Healthcare is an extravagance that Australia can no longer afford, and this fee would serve to both draw in a small amount of extra revenue from the fees and cause people to think twice about whether or not they really need to visit the GP. That way the money can be saved for where it really needs to go, like subsidising the bottom lines of mining magnates. Of course, the undercurrent of all of this is a rethinking of the very idea of universal healthcare in Australia and whether or not it can be better served by relinquishing government control.

UHC is an idea that’s always had significant and broad support across large…

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Burger Off!

The village of Tecoma is a community in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges East of Melbourne. The village is the site of an inspiring people-powered campaign to stop the corporate power of McDonalds. For the last 3 years the people of the area have been tirelessly campaigning against the McDonalds Corporation and their decision to build a restaurant in Tecoma. This protest is an example of the disregard fast food retailers have for the views of locals and their blatant disregard for the power to protest.

Even after the outlet opened its doors in Tecoma after countless attempts by the public to stop it, the protesting has not ceased. The people of Tecoma have vowed to continue fighting McDonalds in a campaign that has inspired many others. The protest has had such a successful reception to like-minded individuals that they have been ‘exporting the revolution’ to other communities that hope to accomplish a similar goal.

The protestors, who refer to themselves as ‘gNOmes’, have shown great numbers and dedication to protesting to such a degree that they almost broke a Guinness World Record. This campaign has revealed the power of the collective to raise awareness concerning issues where corporate bodies have wronged communities and also has raised awareness for the negative impacts fast food retailers such as McDonalds have on such communities.

Locals like Esther Kelly say even if McDonald’s win, they are not going stop fighting:

“I’ll stand there and I’ll tell the tourists to keep driving. Tecoma said no. And we will continue to say no and we will make sure that McDonald’s pays for what they’ve done to our community. They have to pay.” (ABC, 2013)

Coke Targets Teenagers

In 2013 Coca-Cola rolled out an all-out initiative which sought to engage teenagers across digital platforms: ‘The AHH Effect’. The initiative sought to engage youth in a variety of social media ranging from the production of GIFs and videos that were able to be consumed in seconds rather than long periods.

The campaign targeted teenagers on their mobile phones and inserted its branding into viral videos which included cats playing with Coca-Cola boxes. The company partnered with a range of media partners that had a significant presence in youth online including BuzzFeed, Twitter and Facebook.

This campaign sought to recruit teenagers through social networks to create their own content and in turn increase engagement and infiltration of the web with a younger audience.

“The Yale Rudd Center’s Sugary Drink FACTS report, a comprehensive analysis of sugary drink marketing to youth, documents the broad range of non-traditional marketing tactics the brand uses to reach young people. Coke ranked sixth in amount of traditional TV advertising to youth, but children and teens were exposed to more advertising for Coke than any other brand in every other type of marketing we measured: social media, product placements on TV, food company websites, advertising on other websites, mobile apps and other ads, and radio. As a result, even children younger than 12 were exposed to more advertising for Coke than for any other brand, even child-targeted products such as Capri Sun and Kool-Aid” (Psychology Today, 2013)

The negative effects of this kind of marketing strategy are well documented as it alters the perceptions of youth in regards to what they perceive to be healthy and not healthy. Fast food and junk food marketing blatantly targets youths in order to increase consumption at the detriment to the health of the generation. We must actively seek solutions to stopping this kind of marketing technique in order to ensure nutrition is upheld; the health risk of these corporate tactics outweigh the monetary gains for individual companies.

London Mayor Tackles Obesity In Schools

The Mayor of London has launched a new initiative which promotes healthy eating, physical activity and wellbeing in the capital’s schools. The Mayor has allocated £600,000 over the next three years to develop Healthy Schools London which will aim to help improve health and wellbeing in pupils all over London.

Healthy Schools London will support and recognise schools that are actively trying to tackle the issue of obesity that is affecting children and youth across the nation. The statistics show that over a third of London’s eleven year olds are overweight and more than one in five are obese (London.gov, 2013).

“Figures published by the Government reveal that sedentary activities account for 3.4 hours of a child’s day. Only 32% of boys and 24% of girls meet its physical activity guidelines and the most common form of competitive sport outside school for youngsters is at sports clubs – just over a quarter of 11-15 year olds belonging to one” (London.gov, 2013)

Mayor Boris Johnson has stated:

“I am delighted to support Healthy Schools London, which builds on the excellent efforts many of our schools are already doing to tackle obesity and get our young people more active. This is a voluntary scheme, but signing up means you will be part of a fabulous club, committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our youngsters. We know that when schools are healthy places to be, children are happier, their attendance and behaviour improves and they can achieve more.”

The program, Healthy Schools London, is voluntary and works on an award system in which schools are able to sign up and receive benefits for their efforts. 62% of London schools currently undertake enough activity to make them eligible for the program and the Mayor has encouraged these schools to sign up. This eligibility includes making healthy food available, educating children about food, getting children involved in food production and growing, as well as encouraging physical activity amongst pupils.

Nutritionist Amanda Ursell stated:

“Establishing healthy eating patterns when young can influence food preferences and health throughout life, which will in turn, go on to affect the health and wellbeing of our children’s children. Children spend three quarters of their lives at school, which have a crucial role to play in promoting healthy eating. They can provide a rounded education on food, linking healthy eating across the curriculum so that children learn not only how to grow their own food in practice, for example in vegetable patches or pots and grow bags, but also in lessons, by discovering how food gets to their plate, and how what’s in the food affects their growing bodies.” (London.gov, 2013)

WYLFWT entirely agrees with this sentiment; as previous blogs have mentioned, the link between the nutrition of youth as well as the perceptions created by their food environment is significant in their future health both mentally and physically.