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Becoming aware of the slow silent foods and drinks that harm us with Dr James Meucke AM

Imagine knowing that there are ingredients in food and drinks that when consumed over time are slowly and silently leading toward type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and in the worst case blindness. In this powerful episode with Dr James Muecke AM who is the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia and an Adelaide-based eye surgeon, we discuss how a poor diet is the leading cause of death. The startling understanding is that type 2 diabetes may be preventable through changing our diet. A pivotal moment happened for James when his patient Neil, woke up and was blind in both eyes, as a result of his type 2 diabetes. Further still, even if you have type 2 diabetes, imagine knowing that it may be possible, in some cases, to change your diet and have remission?

James is Australian of the Year for 2020 for his 32 years of humanitarian work. He is using this powerful platform to raise awareness of our poor diet, laden with sugary drinks and ultra-processed foods, which is devastating the health of Australians. Not only is he improving awareness in Australia through his influence with government and other organisations. He and I discuss how we were both addicted to sugar and what we did to reduce it and improve our health.

Dr James Muecke here graduated with Honors from Adelaide University Medical School in 1988. Following his internship at Royal Adelaide Hospital, James lived and worked as a volunteer doctor in Kenya in 1989. After completing ophthalmology training in Adelaide in 1995, James worked as an eye surgeon in Jerusalem for 12 months. James furthered his expertise with a Fellowship in Ocular Oncology at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. He returned to Adelaide in 1998 where he has been a Visiting Consultant and Senior Lecturer at Royal Adelaide Hospital (retired 2020) and Women’s & Children’s Hospital (retired 2016).

James established the Ocular Oncology Units at these two centres upon his return. James has taught the diagnosis and management of eye cancer in ten countries in Asia. He founded not-for-profit organization Sight For All in 2008, turning his boundless energy into a fight against blindness in the Aboriginal and mainstream communities of Australia and many of the poorest countries of the world. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable projects are now impacting the lives of over one million people each year.

His commitment to social impact and humanitarian endeavors has earnt him a number of awards including an Order of Australia in 2012, the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Leadership Award in 2013, and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur for Australia in 2015.

  • Degree of Doctor of the University (honoris causa), University of Adelaide, 2021

  • Australian of the Year, 2020.

  • South Australian of the Year, 2019.

  • University of Adelaide Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

  • Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Australia, Social Category), 2015

  • Finalist, Pride of Australia Medal, 2014

  • President’s Leadership Award for blindness prevention in developing countries - Australian Medical Association, 2013.

  • Rural Health and Wellbeing Award for service to Aboriginal eye health in South Australia.

  • Member of the Order of Australia for the provision of eye health services to Asian and Australian Aboriginal communities, 2012.

Learn more about Dr James Muecke AM here.

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