Thursday 29 August 2013

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Special Interest Matters


[10.20 a.m.]

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, you probably would have to have been hiding in a cupboard for the past 10 years not to be aware that Tasmania has a worsening obesity problem. Many reasons are given and even more potential solutions, but it is far from a simple problem. It is easy to say that our diet has changed dramatically in the last 100 years and we are taking less and less daily exercise. But obesity is not the only changeable health problem in Tasmania. We have a high rate of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney failure - the list is a long one. Most of Tasmania's health problems are due to poor diet and other lifestyle factors and it is up to individuals, with government support, to do something about it before we overload health services to destruction.

No-one in this chamber, particularly me, could look at our lifestyle and diet without some misgivings. I will tell you a story about last AugustH when I went into hospital for a shoulder reconstruction. I was recovering the next day and my breakfast arrived at about the same time as the orthopaedic surgeon for the patient next door. I had never seen him before, but it happened to be Dr Gary Fettke. He looked down his nose at my breakfast and said, 'Sugar is poison'. I said to him, 'It doesn't matter'. He said, 'You want to die good looking, don't you?' Well, he had me.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - At that stage I had been drinking 10 cups of tea - on a non-drinking year - or coffee with two heaped spoons of sugar. Since that moment - that was my epiphany - I have not had added sugar to my diet.

I want to talk about Gary Fettke. Apart from being an expert on joint problems, he knows a lot about health problems in Tasmania. It is established that seed oils, such as canola, have an adverse effect on our joints as we grow older. It is established that fructose, which comprises half of our normal cane sugar and a great proportion of corn syrup, is causing massive health problems in the United States; it is virtually poison. Gary Fettke has emailed me the link between diet and many of our health problems. I will quote from part of his message:

As discussed I believe this to be probably the biggest and most preventable health issue for the next several years. So much of the information I have put together links our diet with our health. Specifically, the combined role of fructose, polyunsaturated oils and refined grains and carbohydrate are linked to most modern disease.

I said I would forward this letter on to you regarding the adoption of getting rid of 'junk food' out of the hospitals. It was originally sent to Lara Giddings, Michelle O'Byrne and Roscoe Taylor. It effectively means no saleable chocolates and lollies for charities and that vending machines and kiosks may have a maximum of 20 per cent 'red' flag foods.

It is adopted policy in South Australia since 2010.

Dr Fettke sent me a copy of that letter, and he makes sense to me.

It is generally agreed that one of the big problems with our modern diet is processed foods. They usually contain substances which our grandmothers would not have dreamt of allowing into the kitchen.

There is pressure on the big food manufacturers to reduce sugar, salt and fat in their products, but all three are cheap and contribute to their profits. Unless governments are going to regulate food manufacturing, which is highly unlikely, it is up to consumers to avoid buying products that are high in sugar, salt and seed oil.

This needs an education campaign to help consumers better understand the ingredients section on processed food labels. I believe the ingredients labels could be better presented and more easily understood - I cannot make sense of them, and the print could be better than microscopic.

Gary Fettke has a website on health and diet - you search the web for 'no fructose' - and I have found it a revelation. I will just quote briefly from the introduction:

The consumption of Sugar and Polyunsaturated Seed Oils combine in our diet to create inflammation in every blood vessel wall and in every tissue in every organ of the body. The inflammatory process makes everything susceptible to damage and further disease.

Fructose is fruit sugar and is one half of the 'toxic' material we call sugar.

Fructose is a prolonged appetite stimulant that is highly addictive.

Informed decision making involves knowing the potential consequences of that action. What you do with that information becomes your choice. If you engage in risky behaviour then you will 'pay the price' of that activity given time.

For too many decades we have been 'fed' inaccurate information about the benefits and risks of Sugar and Polyunsaturated Seed Oils.

A diet high in Sugar and Polyunsaturated Seed Oils creates an internal environment ripe for the development of most Modern Diseases including Cancer.

That is from the No Fructose site. I urge everyone to go to the website, consider the evidence, look at the logic and change their diet. He put a post on his website a couple of days ago about junk food in hospitals and he had 2 000 hits in four hours. It is an incredible website.

He is a medico who has really gone out on a limb and stepped up; he is the leading authority in Australia on it and he gets 10 000 hits a week on the website. It is really a campaign that he is on and I am happy to support it - 'no fructose,' search for that.