• An expert in tobacco control says claims action is needed to curb illegal tobacco use in New South Wales are incorrect.
• With 36,000 restaurants around the world, McDonald’s remains the big gorilla of fast food, but underneath those golden arches is a company in turmoil.
• There is little evidence that vitamin D can help with health conditions other than bone fractures, and people may be given doses unnecessarily, two West Australian researchers say.
This is the Health news on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 19TH May 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
An expert in tobacco control says claims action is needed to curb illegal tobacco use in New South Wales are incorrect.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) said it commissioned research which found 14.5 per cent of tobacco consumed in Australia was illegal.
BATA is considering introducing make-your-owns, at $9 for a pack of 25 cigarettes, to curb the trend.
But Dr Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney said government surveys showed illegal tobacco use fell between 2007 and 2013, and has accused the tobacco industry of distorting figures.
Dr Freeman said 3.6 per cent of smokers admitted to using illicit tobacco.
But BATA insists its figures are correct.
Dr Freeman accused the tobacco industry of distorting illegal tobacco use figures to offset the impact of the rises in excise.
“The primary motivation to say that there has been an increase in illicit tobacco use is to prevent the Government from further increasing taxes and that hurts the tobacco industry,” she said.
“The Government should continue on with its taxation policy of increasing the price.”
The Cancer Council NSW said according to government data and independent research, there had not been a reported increase in illegal tobacco and there was no reason for concern.
He said there was no evidence to suggest tobacco control policies, such as plain packaging or tobacco taxes, had contributed to a rise in illegal tobacco sales.
The tobacco industry warned that proceeds from illegal tobacco and cigarettes were being funnelled to criminal gangs and that profits should be going to government.
With 36,000 restaurants around the world, McDonald’s remains the big gorilla of fast food, but underneath those golden arches is a company in turmoil.
Global profit was down 15 per cent last year and is now lower than it was five years ago.
The share price has been equally glum, and in January the company sacked its chief executive and promoted chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook, who took over in March.
In announcing a strategy to try to reverse McDonald’s fortunes, Mr Easterbrook was blunt in his assessment.
“Our recent performance has been poor,” he said.
“The numbers don’t lie.
“Our business model is enduring, but no business or brand has a divine right to succeed.”
Americans are increasingly shunning their Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and fries, in favour of other fast food chains, such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Chipotle, which provides restaurant-quality food with fast food service.
Ironically, McDonald’s used to own Chipotle but sold it in 2006 in a previous rationalisation.
Business analyst and author Michael McQueen said McDonald’s was a company that had failed to move with the times in the USA.
Despite still having about 22 per cent of the $US200 billion fast food market — more than double its nearest competitor — Mr McQueen said McDonald’s was a company with an identity crisis.
In his latest book, Winning the Battle for Relevance — How Even the Greatest Become Obsolete, he charted the decline of global giants including Kodak, Nokia and Blackberry, who have all but vanished in recent years.
He said he believed McDonald’s was not immune to the same fate.
In Australia, there have already been signs of this happening.
The flagship George Street store in the Sydney CBD has been earmarked for closure, while poorly performing stores in the suburbs are already shutting their doors.
There is little evidence that vitamin D can help with health conditions other than bone fractures, and people may be given doses unnecessarily, two West Australian researchers say.
Royal Perth Hospital consultant pathologist and endocrinologist Paul Glendenning and University of Western Australia academic Gerard Chew’s review of evidence from recent years found further studies were needed to establish any link between vitamin D deficiency and cancer risk, diabetes and infections.
He said it was possible people were being unnecessarily tested and treated for low vitamin D levels.
While there are many studies exploring the link between extraskeletal diseases and vitamin D absorption, there is a risk of “reverse causation” skewing results and more research is needed, the study found.
However Dr Glendenning said their work, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, did find some clear benefits of the vitamin.
“There’s a pretty much consistent message that calcium with vitamin D reduces fractures and has effects on fall rates,” he said.
In their article, Dr Chew and Dr Glendenning said frail, older patients with the highest likelihood of injury during a fall were most likely to benefit from supplements.
The article states more than 2,000 peer-reviewed articles have been published on the topics of vitamin D testing, deficiencies and benefits within the past 12 months.
The pair have recommended education initiatives to raise awareness of the current guidelines for vitamin D testing and supplements, as well auditing local practices.
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