Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Obesity Is Winning the Hunger Games

By Guy Nolch

Can a sugar tax save us if obesity has already permanently suppressed the satiety signals that tell us to stop eating?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

When I was at school I was incredulous at a health promotion campaign that urged people to find 30 minutes per day to exercise. I was a skinny, hyperactive kid who barely had time to eat. I knew that adults had to work longer than schoolkids, but how could they not find the time – or desire – to chase a ball for half an hour each day?

Fast forward to the present and we see many people using wearable devices to count how many steps they take each day, as well as monitor other health parameters such as heart rate and quality of sleep. We’re better educated about the food we should eat, and have a wider range of healthier options available. And there’s no end of fitness equipment and diet programs to order from the many “lifestyle” channels available 24/7.

Yet obesity rates have continued to rise, with the Victorian Health Department estimating that about 80% of Australians will be overweight or obese within 9 years. This is alarming not only because being overweight or obese is associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but also because obesity alters our metabolism permanently.

In this edition of Australasian Science, Dr Amanda Page of The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Disease explains that the responses of vagal afferent nerves in the gastrointestinal tract are significantly dampened in obese individuals...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.