New York Times examines Mackay's love affair with sugar
MACKAY has hit headlines across the pond as one of the most well-known and respected news outlets in the world has taken as a closer look at the sugar city.
The New York Times - which has won more Pulitzer prizes than any publication in the world since its founding in 1851 - has produced a short documentary titled 'Do Australians Need a Sugar Intervention?'.
Considering the Mackay region produces "more than a million tonnes of sugar each year", as mentioned in the opening of the eight minute video, the city seems an appropriate focal point for the documentary.
The video by Kassie Bracken, Jonah M. Kessel and Taige Jensen canvasses the ballooning obesity epidemic in Australia, and particularly in regional areas such as Mackay.
Local identities have made the cut, including Mirani cane grower Jeffery 'Kookaburra' Bradshaw, alongside Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen.
"Mackay wasn't just built on sugar, it's part of the culture and a source of pride," the video's narrator states.
"So, Mackay likes sugar. But health experts say it's contributing to a national health crisis.
"Since 1990, the number of obese adults in Australia has tripled and regional areas like Mackay are the heaviest."
In the video, Mr Christensen defends individual choice when it comes to sugar consumption.
"People have the right to choose, in terms of what they eat. Government should not be trying to dictate to people how to lives their lives," he states.
"Yes, I'm probably outspoken. Some people say, use the name, maverick."
The video contains sweeping shots over Mackay region canefields, historical footage and glimpses of Mackay city to illustrate its point.
One resident interviewed in the documentary, Ashlee Young, speaks about undergoing a bariatric sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve surgery) as a teenager battling with her weight.
"It was either I get this done or there's no point in me being here, there really isn't," Ms Young states.
The video speaks to health experts and advocates about the obesity epidemic, and discusses whether a 'sugar tax', or 'soft drink tax', on some products is the right way forward.
Mr Christensen speaks about his continuing opposition to any such tax.
The video does note "in the 1950s and 60s sugar was a part of Mackay culture and everyday life, and obesity wasn't".
"Of course, it's not just soft drinks and sugar making people fat. A lot's changed since then," the narrator states.
"People are less active, fast food is everywhere - there are many contributing factors."
Mr Christensen's own gastric sleeve surgery, which he underwent in Malaysia earlier this year, also gets a mention in the documentary.
Ultimately, the video questions whether Australia could lead the way in tackling an obesity crisis present throughout the developed world.