‘Hidden’ sugar can be pitfall for consumers

Most Australian shoppers say they know consuming too much sugar is unhealthy.

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(First:) “I know it’s a problem, I know it’s in a lot of processed foods and so on, but I don’t buy them anyway.”

(Second:) “Just because of some health concerns, I’ve now had to start paying attention to sugar, but I must admit, previously, it never crossed my mind.”

(Third:) “I try to avoid buying things with sugar on the menu.”

But Jane Martin from the Obesity Policy Coalition explains checking the label is not always enough.

“One of the problems for a consumer is they don’t know how much added sugar is in their food compared to the naturally occurring sugar, because that’s not clear on the label. There are 43 different names for sugar that are used on the ingredient list, and that makes it very confusing to know what proportion of your food is actually sugar.”

Research shows Australians are consuming an average of 60 grams of added sugar a day, equating to 14 teaspoons.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders consume even more, 18 teaspoons.

And some teenagers are consuming 38 teaspoons daily.

Katinka Day, from the consumer group CHOICE, says that is equivalent to the sugar in four cans of Coca-Cola.

“Australians are over-consuming added sugar, especially children and teenagers. Added sugar is hidden in everyday products. So it’s not the products that you just think of as unhealthy. It’s breakfast cereals, it’s yoghurts, it’s savoury foods.”

CHOICE has named several culprits in a new report on added sugars.

The biggest name is Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain, where one 40-gram serving contains nearly three teaspoons of hidden sugar.

Other items mentioned include Healthy Choice apricot chicken and Woolworths Select chow mein.

Some surprise inclusions are Gippsland raspberry and coconut yoghurt, as well as Golden Day apricot bites.

The Grattan Health Institute’s Dr Stephen Duckett says the report shows added sugar is disguised, not up-front.

“It’s all very well to say to people, ‘You’ve got to actually moderate your food intake, you’ve got to moderate your sugar intake.’ But, if they think that something doesn’t have much sugar in it and it turns out to have more, that’s really bad.”

Katinka Day says, if consumers make the right changes, they could avoid 38 kilograms of unnecessary sugar a year.

But, first, she says, labels need to be more transparent.

“So we’re asking for the government to catch up with the rest of the world and label added sugars clearly on food products. We need labels that allow consumers to make informed choices.”

State, territory and federal food ministers will consider that recommendation when they meet on Friday at the Forum of Food Regulation.

Understanding the true meaning of Anzac Day

At the Royal Military College Duntroon, Staff Cadet Emma Forward is preparing to mark her second Anzac Day in uniform.

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The 27-year-old remembers what Anzac Day meant to her as a child.

“I always used to go to dawn service and close my eyes and try to imagine what it would be like to go through that hardship and bloodshed. But I think it’s quite hard to identify, or even sense what it would have been like.”

But now, she says, she does have a better idea of what it means to join the Australian Defence Force.

“You’re able to understand that there’s so much more sacrifice and commitment given to be in the military, as opposed to being on the outside. It’s so important to remember that there’ve been many men and women who have sacrificed so much to give Australia the freedom that it does have now.”

Emma Forward left a career in mining engineering to join the army.

Now only a few months away from graduating from the Royal Military College, she says she wants to become a combat engineer.

“Combat engineers, they work very closely with infantry, and they do explosive-handling and route-clearing. So it’s a lot to do with different pieces of equipment that are going to enable infantry on the ground.”

Anzac Day marks the dawn landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps onto the shores of Gallipoli, in Turkey, in 1915.

The eight-month campaign that followed killed more than 8,000 Australian soldiers.

It marked the beginning of the Anzac legend and the annual day of remembrance.

For retired air-force nurse Sharon Bown, it is a day to remember those who have died serving their country.

“I lost patients, I lost friends, and colleagues. So Anzac Day became more of a day of reflection. It became somewhat of a sad day.”

She spent nearly 20 years in the Defence Force.

In 2004, she was in East Timor and on an emergency medical flight to the village of Same.

In bad weather, the helicopter she was on crashed.

“I walked away with a burst wedge compression fracture of L3 — so a serious spinal fracture — and a shattered jaw. My jaw was broken in four places. And chemical burns to my shoulders and my back, where I had been exposed to aviation fuel.”

Sharon Bown spent the next four years recovering before landing in Afghanistan to serve as a critical-care nurse.

“The wounds and trauma caused by improvised explosive devices and gunfire is unlike anything that you see anywhere else in the world. I try not to concentrate on the devastation of that but the difference that we were able to make, the children thatwe were able to provide with care who may not have otherwise received care if we were not there.”

Veterans services are also preparing to mark Anzac Day.

John Bale, chief executive of Soldier On, a support group for physically or psychologically injured veterans, says the day can be uncomfortable for those from more recent conflicts.

“I think modern veterans are still finding their place in the Anzac tradition. We still don’t really understand where we sit. Most of our focus is on the wars of old. We don’t have a good understanding of what a modern veteran is, what they’ve just completed in Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and all of our peacekeeping operations, disaster relief, border protection, et cetera.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs cares for about 300,000 clients across the country.

But John Bale says the Australian public is obligated to care for them as well.

“Government has its place. It’s critical, of course. But at the end of the day, you join the community, not the Department of Veterans Affairs. You need to be supported by us, the Australian people, and we need to understand what our men and women have done.”

 

African trio to pilot malaria vaccine

Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will pilot the world’s first malaria vaccine from 2018, offering it for babies and children in high-risk areas as part of real-life trials, the World Health Organisation says.

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The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa.

In clinical trials it proved only partially effective, and it needs to be given in a four-dose schedule, but is the first regulator-approved vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease.

The WHO, which is in the process of assessing whether to add the shot to core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, has said it first wants to see the results of on-the-ground testing in a pilot program.

“Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s African regional director, said in a statement as the three pilot countries were announced.

“Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.”

Malaria kills around 430,000 people a year, the vast majority of them babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Global efforts in the last 15 years cut the malaria death toll by 62 per cent between 2000 and 2015.

The WHO pilot program will assess whether the Mosquirix’s protective effect in children aged five to 17 months can be replicated in real-life.

It will also assess the feasibility of delivering the four doses needed, and explore the vaccine’s potential role in reducing the number of children killed by the disease.

The WHO said Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot due to several factors, including having high rates of malaria as well as good malaria programs, wide use of bed-nets, and well-functioning immunisation programs.

Each of the three countries will decide on the districts and regions to be included in the pilots, the WHO said, with high malaria areas getting priority since these are where experts expect to see most benefit from the use of the vaccine.

‘Ring main caused lead at Perth hospital’

The source of dangerous lead in drinking water at the new Perth children’s hospital was likely a government-owned “ring main”, according to WA’s Building Commissioner, contradicting state government claims that contractor John Holland is to blame.

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Both the previous Liberal National government and new Labor government have been highly critical of John Holland for a litany of problems at the still-unopened $1.2 billion hospital, including the unsolved issue of elevated lead levels in drinking water.

However, commissioner Peter Gow said in his independent audit report that there were no grounds for immediate disciplinary action against John Holland based on what he had investigated.

“The audit found the most likely causes of the lead contamination were disturbed residues in the QEII medical centre ring main and lead leaching from the brass fittings and fixtures in the PCH plumbing network,” he told reporters on Monday.

Last Thursday, Treasurer Ben Wyatt criticised John Holland for not accepting responsibility for the lead.

In late January, both Premier Colin Barnett and WA’s Health Department director-general David Russell-Weisz said unequivocally the source of the lead was from within the hospital after John Holland project manager Lindsay Albonico said it was from the state-owned pipes.

Mr Gow said “we are satisfied” that there was lead in the ring main and tests had shown that.

That ring main also supplies water to the QEII Medical Centre, including the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, raising fears about lead contamination there.

Mr Gow said there was no evidence those facilities were contaminated by lead.

The new children’s hospital might have been affected by residue because the water was not being used much and was stagnant, given it was already 18 months past its original scheduled opening.

There are strong financial motives at play, with the government having already flagged it would pursue a significant damages claim against John Holland over the various costs of the delay, including keeping the old children’s hospital open.

Mr Gow cited the contractual disputes between the parties as motivation for blaming each other for the lead levels and recommended more, independent tests to ensure the lead issue was resolved.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, who blamed John Holland for the lead as Treasurer until last month’s election, rejected any suggestion the previous government had covered up information, saying it followed tests by the Department of Health that found no lead in the ring main.

“If you show any evidence that we have overridden advice to the contrary, please put it forward,” he said.

The Building Commission report concluded the delayed completion, complaints, material failures including the discovery of asbestos in roof panels and contractual disputes suggest John Holland may have failed to properly manage and supervise the project.

Man arrested, then let go after baby dies

A man has been arrested and later released after a two-month-old baby boy died in southern NSW as police investigate whether the death was due to injury or illness.

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While the cause of death remains unclear, investigators are treating it with “a degree of suspicion”, Detective Inspector Bob Noble told AAP on Monday.

The baby was “seriously unwell” when emergency services were called to a home in Kooringal, near Wagga Wagga, about 5am.

Paramedics treated him at the scene and he was rushed to Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital but died a short time later.

A 32-year-old man, named in media reports as Andrew Crichton and believed to be the baby’s father, was arrested at the home.

Det Insp Noble said he was extremely distressed by the incident.

Neighbour Simone Gowland heard Mr Crichton screaming and crying as police arrived at the scene in the early hours of Monday morning.

“He just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’,” she told local newspaper the Daily Advertiser.

“He didn’t put up any fight – he just sobbed as police loaded him into the wagon.”

Mr Crichton was released later on Monday afternoon pending further inquiries.

Police will wait for a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of the baby’s death.

“It’s sort of unclear at this stage … we can’t definitively say whether it was caused by an illness or an injury,” Det Insp Noble said.

The baby’s mother is also assisting homicide detectives with the investigation. She and her extended family are receiving support.

The family is understood to have lived in the region for some time.

Officers who first attended the incident were understandably shaken by the tragedy, Det Insp Noble said.

“He’s such a tiny, young child and it does make it quite profoundly upsetting,” he said.

“If anyone in the community does have any more information, they should ring us here at the station immediately.”

A crime scene was set up around the home with detectives interviewing neighbours.