Australians - world record holders through and through!

In May 2006 an obesity summit in Brisbane warned that Australia could overtake USA in the obesity stakes within a decade.1

By November 1997 a report released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) singled Australia out for the country's sky-rocketing obesity rate. Australia had the fifth highest adult obesity rate, 21.7 per cent, behind the US, 32.2 per cent, Mexico, 30.2 per cent, the UK, 23 per cent, and Greece, 21.9 per cent. Australians were reported to be gaining weight even faster than people in the US, a notoriously fat nation.2

By 20th June 2008 Australia was crowned the world’s fattest nation with more than 9 million adults now rated as obese or overweight. Our so-called “fat bomb” is ticking loudly, with 72% of middle-aged males and 58% of middle-aged females overweight or obese.3

This is one "world title" we have much to be embarrassed about.

In Australia the the weather is often glorious, and to the European world we are seen as a sporty outdoor culture.

Our fresh produce is considered some of the best in the world - our beef and tuna earn top dollar on the Japanese markets, our fruits are air-freighted to asia's wealthy. Our geographical isolation our products are free of disease that blights other markets (anthrax, foot and mouth, etc.).

Despite being at the mercy of drought (and in fact this is what lead to the discovery of the el nino and la nina affect by Australian scientists) there is never a shortage of good food.

The equation is simple: (calories in) - (calories out) = (weight gain).

Overlooking the complications of metabolism, medication affecting physiological processes, the complication with respect to calories is consumed is that apparently people don't know what they are eating. Seems a little ridiculous when they're not bound and blindfolded for force-feeding, yet, as Jamie Oliver pointed out on Australian television last week, the contents of foods has changed and somewhere along the line people forgot to notice and think about it.

Currently our politicians and public service are intent on launching inquiries resulting in bureaucratic guidelines for advertising time slots and land development by foreign entities. Do you think this might be missing the point?

What is the point of having an inquiry into grocery prices and competition when the 2 major players in the market (controlling 80-90% of the spend depending on which statistics you read) barely even sell fresh food. What Australia might actually need is LESS VARIETY and LESS CHOICE - I mean really, do we need 85 different pasta & rice convenience side dishiz? And yes, there are 85 listed on colesonline!!!

Do we address advertising fast foods and snacks during children's viewing hours (do we even know what they are) or should we consider reaching beyond that and address the people that actually purchase the products for the children - yes, you know, the parents that have managed to was their hands of responsibility?

I understand that people are busy and under pressure, that children take up an enormous amount of time and effort (and Costello's baby bonus won't cover it), but I can't fathom why a family with 2 young children using a home grocery service will only buy 28 serves of fruit (enough for 2 people) and a $5 stir-fry pack (that hubby and I would get through in a night) for the week. I want to think that perhaps they'll do a supplementary shop, perhaps they were going away, but I know even still, that this family is not eating what they should be.

What do you think is the decision making factor that needs to be address in order for people to eat more fresh food?


Lucy said...

I think much of it stems from inactivity, as much as anything else. All the 'incidental' excercise involved in walking to the bus/train/school seems to happen not nearly as often as it used to. Everyone's too busy to walk anywhere.

Not exactly stats to be proud of, that's for certain.

Duncan | Syrup&Tang said...

Good sentiments, grocer. We live in a mostly-comfortable society where embracing variety is part of life, so this is naturally exploited by marketing and manufacturers to make their offerings 'exciting'. I'd say it's almost impossible to convince people that less choice is better once they have the 'taste' for this way of living. The irony is, as you note, that variety doesn't mean quality. And it can mean loss of knowledge and skill.

On obesity, I quickly discovered while researching an article on obesity that perhaps the majority of studies which are reported in the press are of little scientific weight or use a selective interpretation of results or draw speculative conclusions within a positively inclined research framework. The most recent one, proclaiming Australia the fattest nation, is a case in point.

Zoe said...

I don't know that we do "embrace variety" that much - all that packet shite tastes the same to me. Eating seasonally is about variety, but no point preaching to the choir here, right ;)

I think it's ignorance about seasonality and and lack of time that holds people (esp. mothers of young children) back. And preparation - a plain apple in the lunchbox might not get eaten - too hard to take the first bite with a a little mouth, kid's in too much of a rush to play or the skin's a bit tough if the apple's been stored too long. I buy small apples, and cut them and use lemon and they get eaten. I used to think that those twee kid's meals were for neurotic parents, but to a degree they work. But it does take a bit of time/imagination. Not much, but more than opening a packet with a less guaranteed result.

Ran said...

i blame suburban fish and chip joints and 6 dollar pizzas (at least in my burb)!

I have been putting on weight this winter due to making a lot of quite hearty meals - a bit more butter, a bit more cheese, but I am not that worried as I know I still get my 2 and 5 and have a pretty balanced diet, and hopefully come summer when it is more salad and bbq based the weight will come down.

but lucy i think u r right about the activity - i have had a bad back and ankle which has affected my winter soccer season and i think that may be contributing to the weight more than my baking obsession. ill go with that anyway

t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Grocer its is really very simple.
As a former sportsperson you will understand.
less energy in & more excercise & you'll lose weight or keep it off.
People just make all the excuses in the world but nevr face up to the fact that they are in control of their weight issues.
My wife & i went on the csiro diet(very meat focused for protein but thats another story)about two years ago. I lost nearly 13kgs over the year & kept it off for another.
HOWEVER, my bad habits retured & its all back on with some interest.
No one else's fault but mine. Not the Governments, the fast food people or the teachers. Mine.