The first Australian healthy eating guidelines were published in 1982. Its now been 35 years since our government became worried enough about our health to start telling us what to eat. There is now little doubt that it has been an unmitigated disaster.
The guidelines told us to eat more fruit and vegetables and less animal fat and salt, moderate our intake of sugar and alcohol and exercise more.
And we pretty much did as we were told.
We now add salt to our food a third less frequently than we did in 1982. And Between 1992 and 2011, we increased our consumption of vegetables by 15.4%, and our fruit consumption by 7.5%.
We also exercise more. In 1995, 30.2% of us performed moderate or high levels of exercise every week and in 2012 that had increased to 32.4% with the proportion doing high levels of exercise almost doubling.
Between 1980 and 2012 we also cut back on the booze, dropping our consumption by 21%.
The only guideline we appeared to ignore was the one about ‘moderating’ our sugar consumption. Data on that is spongy due to the Australian Bureau of Statistics discontinuing its monitoring in 1995 but based on comparable data in the US, we are likely to have increased the amount of sugar we consume by about 20%
So how have the Guidelines gone? Have they reduced chronic disease? Have they improved health outcomes? Are we all pictures of glowing good health after a third of a century of politician inspired, food industry sponsored, dietitian enforced eating advice?
Not so much.
Chronic disease is now killing us at rates which were unimaginable in the 1980s. Here are some of the most egregious examples, but they are just the tip of the ice-berg.
In the early 1980s, Forty percent of us were overweight including 10% who were obese.
Thirty-five years later, we would kill to only have that kind of weight problem. Now almost 70% of us are overweight and obesity has tripled.
The science tells us weight gain is caused by sugar’s unique ability to dysregulate our appetite control.
Type II Diabetes
In 1989, less than 1% of the Australian population had Type II Diabetes. By 2015, that number had more than quadrupled (to 4.4%). As a result, every day in Australia around 12 people will undergo a diabetes-related amputation.
Type II Diabetes is caused by consumption of sugar.
Chronic kidney disease is now responsible for more than 1 in every 6 hospitalisations. And that rate has gotten very bad, very quickly. Between 2001 and 2015, hospital admissions for kidney dialysis alone more than doubled.
Chronic kidney disease is caused by consumption of sugar
The incidence of all cancers has increased by 23% but some cancers have exploded. Australians are now three times as likely to have Thyroid or liver cancer and between 2 and 3 times as likely to have Kidney, Anal or prostate cancer or melanoma.
Reported rates of Hay Fever, Asthma and Eczema have doubled in the last 15 years according to survey data. Hosptilisation rates for the most extreme form of allergic reaction, Anaphylaxis (life threatening acute inflammation usually in response to food) also doubled between 1994 and 2005. And the biggest overall change has been a five-fold increase in anaphylaxis admissions for children aged 0 to 4 years (as compared to just double for the rest of the population). Five times as many admissions in just ten years.
Impaired inflammation responses like these are caused by consumption of vegetable oil.
Around one in six Australian couples now meet the World Health Organisation definition of infertility and this is due in no small part to the alarming drop in male fertility. Since the 1980s, male sperm counts have dropped by at least 30% and if the trend continues, fertile men will be as rare as hen’s teeth within two decades.
Male fertility is destroyed by consumption of vegetable oils.
Those we trusted with health advice told us to eat vegetable oils, focus on the fat and calorie content of foods and exercise more. They also had scant concern for sugar. The food industry paid attention and pushed the ‘healthy eating’ barrow as hard and fast as it could.
Our food was filled with vegetable oil and sugar and that was ok as long as it was ‘low in saturated fat’. The dietetics industry merrily accepted the sponsorship of the food producers and sung uncritically from the same hymn sheet.
But now we see the grisly consequences of that gormless obsession with saturated fat unfolding before our eyes (provided they haven’t been destroyed by vegetable oil induced macular degeneration).
The evidence that sugar and vegetable oil is crippling us is now abundant, but those in charge of health advice refuse to act. These same experts who have presided over three decades of culpably negligent public health advice, now refuse to either acknowledge their error or change their foolhardy ways.
That advice must change immediately. We cannot afford to throw millions more of us under the bus driven by the egos of academics and fueled by the blood money of the processed food industry.