Junk food is highly profitable because of low production cost and long shelf life.Poor nations are now the world’s biggest junk food consumers, with millions of people rapidly shifting from healthier traditional diets to cheap western processed foods linked to obesity, a new study says.
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A paper published in the online science journal PLoS has accused some of the world’s biggest food and beverage manufacturers – including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes – of being “leading vectors”, or carriers, for a global spread of obesity.

The study, which compared data from 80 countries, found developing nations had the highest rate of increased consumption of soft drink and unhealthy western-style processed foods high in salt, fat and sugar. By comparison, little or no further consumption growth in these “unhealthy commodities” was expected in wealthier nations, creating a “perverse incentive” for manufacturers to expand markets in poorer countries.

The study, by scientists from Britain, India and the United States, argues local farmers and food sellers frequently “cannot compete with multinational firms” and are forced out of business. As a result, a developing nation’s food systems are forced to depend on processed food imports and investments from “large multinational processed food firms”, with the result that diets shift toward the cheaper but less healthy choices provided by convenience foods.

The paper claims opening up markets in developing nations to free trade and foreign investment is creating a “dietary dependency” on processed food and soft drinks, leading to health problems such as obesity. An analysis of food and beverage sales in 80 countries revealed consumption of soft drinks, sweetened juices and other junk food is increasing in developing countries at a much faster rate than has been tracked in the US over the past 50 years.

The study found free trade agreements could be linked to a 63 per cent increase in soft drink consumption. The biggest increase in per capita occurred in Vietnam and India, where soft drink consumption rates have doubled. Mexico has the highest  consumption rate of soft drinks – more than 300 litres per person a year – and also has the world’s second-highest rate of childhood obesity. In Egypt, China and Morocco, soft drink consumption has risen by 50 per cent.

The paper argues junk foods and soft drinks “are highly profitable” because of low production costs and long-shelf life. This created “perverse incentives” for multinational food companies to target developing countries as major areas for market expansion, despite health risks linked to junk food and soft drinks.

“Economic development pushes populations through a nutritional transition from under-nutrition to over-nutrition, shifting food preferences from traditional diets characterised by low salt, saturated fat and glycaemic indexes to less healthy, complex diets that lead to obesity,” the study said.

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Retired Registered Nurse Cathy Hermes.Plans by half of Australia’s nursing workforce to quit or retire over the next decade will force hospitals to offer more flexible working hours to keep Baby Boomer and many young nurses working, according to a new report.
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About 200 senior and junior nurses were interviewed as part of the study commissioned by workforce management systems company Kronos.

Most of those who were planning to leave nursing said they were doing so because they wanted to retire.

But others cited overwhelming workload, unclear career progression, inflexible working hours and low salaries.

The Kronos general manager for Australia, Peter Harte, said health organisations needed to offer greater flexibility if they wanted to retain nurses as the ageing of the population drove up demand for health services. ”You’ve got about 370,000 nurses and midwives and about 36 per cent of those are over the age of 50,” he said.

”If they had more nurse-friendly hours or more flexible schedules then there’s a willingness to stay in the industry.”

Mr Kronos said hospitals were increasingly using technology which allowed them to more accurately forecast when patient demand was greatest and roster nurses accordingly.

Australian Nursing Federation ACT branch secretary Jenny Miragaya said many older nurses chose to retire because this enabled them to demand flexible hours in exchange for returning to work on a part-time or casual basis.

Canberra maternal and child health worker Cathy Hermes retired recently but hopes to return to work three days a week later this year.

Mrs Hermes admitted to missing work.

‘It’s a lovely job working with families and new babies and young children,” she said.

”I’m probably finding it a little hard – that’s why I’m hoping to get some part-time work.”

ACT Health Directorate data showed that one third of the nursing workforce was aged 50 years or older.

A Health Directorate spokeswoman said a range of flexible working arrangements has been introduced to help accommodate work/life balance for nurses.

”This can include shorter shifts to facilitate picking up and dropping off school aged children, as well as arrangements for part-time and casual employment that may assist with other roles nurses have in the community,” the spokeswoman said.

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Australian shares are set for a modest gain when trade opens after global markets slipped as Spanish and Italian interest rates climbed to dangerous levels.
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On the ASX24, the SPI futures was 10 points higher to 4100. The Australian dollar has climbed back above $US1.02. It was recently buying $US1.0208, up from $US1.0191 late yesterday. But it has retreated against the euro. After reaching an all-time high of 83.26 euro cents yesterday, the Aussie was recently buying 82.87.Join the Markets Live blog from 9.30am

Investors on both sides of the Atlantic watched with concern overnight as Spanish and Italian borrowing rates climbed, but Germany and for the first time France borrowed at negative rates, marking new tension on sovereign debt markets as eurozone ministers met. The Spanish 10-year rate surged again above the danger level of 7.0 per cent to 7.023 per cent. A rate above 7.0 per cent is believed to put a eurozone country at risk of needing a debt rescue.

Making news today

In economics news:National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey for June

In company news:Insurance Australia Group Asian business operations updateTrojan Equity Limited – Date payable

Analyst rating changes:Iluka Resources cut to ‘sector perform’ at RBCQube Logistics rated new ‘underweight’ at Morgan StanleyNewcrest Mining raised to ‘overweight’ at JPMorganFortescue Metals raised to ‘strong buy’ at BBY Ltd

How we fared yesterday

The Australian sharemarket has closed lower for the third consecutive day, dragged down by resources stocks after a sluggish US employment report and a profit warning from mineral sands miner Iluka Resources fanned fears about slowing global growth.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 39.5 points, or 1 per cent, to 4118.3, while the broader All Ords lost 39.2 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4159.8.

BusinessDay with agencies

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THERE have been question marks about the handling of Kade Simpson’s concussion and Kyle Reimers’ head clash over the weekend, but the AFL’s management of these situations is actually world’s best practice.
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Club medical representatives take no risks these days and their decision is final. Coaches cannot overrule them and a concussed player cannot come back onto the ground. Simpson would not have been allowed to train or play this week whether he had broken his jaw or not. A player cannot even begin to train until he has had formal medical clearance.

There should be no risk with concussion. In the United States, NFL player Junior Seau took his own life. He suffered depression as a result of several concussions.

Melbourne’s Daniel Bell and Western Bulldog Matthew Robbins have highlighted their own issues with concussion, while Dean Kemp and Chad Rintoul are among players who have won injury compensation.

Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia, with up to 80 former NFL players and their families claiming the league had purposely hid links between concussion-related head trauma and permanent brain damage suffered to players. If this claim is successful, there will be global ramifications.

Concussion is a relatively common injury in football. AFL reports reveal there are six or seven concussions per team, per season.

It is common for a player to play injured, and risk further injury, in order to win games of football. It is also common for a player who is out of contract or on an incentive-based contract to play hurt in order to have his career extended. Often, an agent will discuss this process with his player to work out what is the best strategy regarding his contract.

However, concussion is a very different proposition to other injuries. These days, at least, this is a non-negotiable.

There are stories that players purposely perform badly on the pre-season concussion test in order to bluff doctors if they do get concussed during a game and have to perform the same test. This may have been the case once but I hope it is not now. The test is designed so that the bigger the discrepancy in results, the greater the concussion.

The AFL will look to further consolidate its strong position by sending an AFL medical director to the Concussion Consensus Meeting in Zurich later this year.

We don’t know the long-term ramifications of concussion but we should be happy with the AFL’s handling of the players.

A player will do his utmost to play, whether he is injured or concussed. Simpson wanted to come back on against Collingwood on Friday night. Clearly, that would have been a bad outcome. Fortunately, when it comes to concussion, the decision is taken out of the player’s hands.

The Secret Agent is one of the AFL’s 95 accredited player agents.

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COLLINGWOOD has quickly accepted the match review panel’s offer of a three-match suspension for midfielder Sharrod Wellingham, meaning he will miss important games against Geelong and Hawthorn plus a potential percentage-booster against Greater Western Sydney.
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The match review panel declined any temptation to hammer Wellingham, whose collision with Carlton’s Kade Simpson last Friday night caused much debate. Simpson, who had his jaw broken in the incident, faces surgery and will miss up to four matches himself.

The panel gave Wellingham a five-match suspension for rough play, but because of a clean five-year record and the guilty plea, Collingwood was able to reduce the suspension to three matches. There was a 25 per cent discount for each, and while most clubs wait 24 hours to consider their case, the Magpies had accepted the offer by yesterday afternoon.

The panel assessed Wellingham’s action as ”reckless” and the impact as ”severe”, drawing 550 demerit points, which was reduced to 412.50 by his clean record, and to 309.3 points with the guilty plea.

Simpson had played 158 consecutive games for the Blues, the longest current streak by a player. He left the field with trainers after the third-quarter collision in a marking contest, and did not return.

While some pundits suggested Wellingham may receive up to six weeks, the panel did come down hard on several other incidents.

Geelong’s champion midfielder Jimmy Bartel has been offered a two-match suspension for striking Trent McKenzie of Gold Coast in an off-the-ball incident, and Heath Hocking of Essendon also copped two matches for rough conduct against Lenny Hayes of St Kilda on Saturday night.

Because both incidents were classified as off-the-ball, the panel tagged them ”intentional”, in line with a ruling from the AFL made after the Campbell Brown case last year.

Brownlow medallist Bartel’s brain-fade is costly for Geelong, which faces Collingwood on Friday night and Essendon in round 17. The videotape shows him hitting McKenzie in the head with a right forearm, and McKenzie staying down for some time. The panel assessed the incident as ”medium” impact, and a reprimand for tripping in 2009 meant that Bartel could not claim a discount for a clean record. But a guilty plea today would reduce his suspension from three matches to two.

Hocking knocked down St Kilda champion Hayes in what appeared to be a clumsy attempt to block on Saturday night, but the panel nailed him for rough conduct and assessed the contact as ”low”. Hocking’s poor record (suspended for four matches in the past three years) increased the penalty by 40 per cent and he also had 81.25 carry-over points from an incident in the past 12 months, meaning he fell just short of a four-match ban.

The AFL’s Rising Star award will have a new favourite after Greater Western Sydney’s Jeremy Cameron was given a reprimand for striking Clinton Young of Hawthorn.

While Cameron can accept a reprimand and 93.75 carry-over points if he chooses to plead guilty today, the 125 demerit point sanction makes him ineligible for the award.

Richmond’s Matt White has been offered a three-match suspension for striking James Frawley of Melbourne, and a further reprimand for striking Luke Tapscott. Frawley was offered a reprimand for striking Robin Nahas in the same match, and Demon Lynden Dunn was offered a one-match suspension for striking Luke McGuane.

West Coast’s Luke Shuey was given two matches for striking North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas, and fellow-Eagle Quinten Lynch one match for tripping. Collingwood’s Jackson Paine has been offered a reprimand for tripping.

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