Currently showing: Funding longer lives > Health/medicine

13 Sep 13 01:39

By 2030, more than half a billion of world population would be suffering from Diabetes. The rapid increase in diabetes and obesity (Diabesity) is already a recognised risk which may bankrupt few economies. 15 years since coining the word' Diabesity' very little has changed in proactively managing this risk.The aversion for such risks by most carriers continues even in countries which are highly affected with this not so sweet disease. This largely can be attributed to the lack of innovation, be it risk quantifying methods or products. It is time now to act, to unlearn and relearn the evolution / management of diabesity and its complications, and reassess the way the risk is quantified, design appropriate products / benefits.

Google's 'smart lens' for diabetics

Diabetes 'smart lens' tested by Google

Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine


Gavin Montgomery - 13 Sep 2013, 10:26 a.m.

The New York Times magazine ran a brilliant article earlier this year about the science the food industry uses to make their products more addictive:

The comparison with the tobacco industry which, as anybody who watched The Insider knows, used technology to optimize the nicotine hit of every puff of a cigarette while optimizing margins and sales by introducing dangerous chemicals like bleach, potassium nitrate and about a hundred others.

The level of technology used to reach the "bliss point" is amazing and the key ingredient, it seems, is always sugar.

Of course, it is always easy to blame corporations. The tobacco and food industries are undeniably evil but consumers willing collaborate (me included). Just check out or You have to ask why anybody would put any of that in their mouths.

One reason, is that healthy food no longer tastes the same way. As The Scientist reports, tomatoes no longer taste the way they used to 50 years because farmers have focused on color and size, rather than flavor, while artificial ripening processes also reduce taste:

The same has happened with most of our produce - see apples:

So, on the one hand we have an agressive industry pushing harmful, "morish" products, on the other an agressive industry pushing yield over flavor and in the middle a compliant, time poor consumer who just wants to stuff something sweet, greasy and salty down their throat for a brief hit of whatever chemicals we release during eating.

It's an explosive mix and one that is unlikely to change without government intervention. As we saw in New York, where Mike Bloomberg tried to ban large servings of soda and successfully banned trans-fats in locally produced baked goods, any attempt at regulating content is likely to back fire. The only other solution is class action, and a large legal settlement might make the food industry think twice, but there has yet to be a successful suit and the industries involved dwarf Big Tobacco and have huge global political clout. Preaching moderation to consumers addled by sugar craving and round the clock marketing that targets people of all ages to get 'em while their young and keep 'em hooked till they're buried (Ronald McDonald is Joe Camel in a clown suit) is also a non-starter.

The question, then, is how we can affect any kind of change? I don't see an obvious solution.

Nicola Oliver - 17 Sep 2013, 12:27 p.m.

Did anyone see any of the BBC (UK) documentary series, 'the men who made us thin'? really interesting insight into both the food industry, and the 'weight-loss' industry.
Quite shocking to see the tactics used by companies such as Nestle in low and middle-income countries, as you point out Gavin, much like those used by the tobacco industry, as highlighted by this excellent article in The Lancet earlier this year.
I can't recall the exact name of the town, but following the proposal to introduce a tax on soda in the US, Coca Cola staged what amounted to a blanket campaign of advertising and mis-information in order to influence the outcome. The food industry is a rich and powerful machine.

Rashunda Tramble - 19 Sep 2013, 3:37 p.m.

@Gavin: I think enacting change is an individual thing. Something has to happen to kick start new behavior. It comes from inside. For example, it took seeing myself in a photo to realize I'd gotten - uh - slightly Rubenesque a few years back and needed to watch what I ate. I guess, sadly, an issue has to really hit a person hard before they start paying attention.

Gavin Montgomery - 20 Sep 2013, 6:54 a.m.

@Rashunda: Absolutely, but context and culture help. It is easier to eat well when you aren't being bombarded by images of food, for example. I saw a study recently that showed that juvenile obesity rates in the U.S. were beginning to fall thanks to rising awareness.

@Nicola: Check out the links I posted in my response to this blog from Alicia Montoya: Particularly the first one.

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