Are Queenslander's too fat for their own good?
Written by Marika Day
The growth of our nation was at the forefront of discussions last week with the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) president Dr Shaun Rudd releasing a statement that eight out of ten Queenslanders will be “too fat for their own good” within five years. And the statistics a don’t lie….. three in five Australian adults are overweight or obese and one quarter of all Australian children are overweight or obese. It is now predicted that obesity will pass smoking as Australia’s major cancer killer within the next decade. Last week the Dr Shaun Rudd called upon both sides of government to take action in obesity prevention to avoid the increased pressure on the health care system.
In light of this we thought it would be a fitting time to put the problem of overweight and obesity back on the table and discuss why this increase in overweight and obesity is an issue and what can be done.
Excess weight is a major risk factor for multiple diseases and illnesses including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breathing difficulties (sleep apnoea)
- Some cancers
- Some musculoskeletal diseases
- Low self esteem and
- Behavioural problems
What’s more scary though is the rise in overweight and obese in our children. We are looking at the possibility that this could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.
The recommendations put forward by AMAQ to tackle overweight and obesity include:
- Banning fast food outlets from opening within 1km of new schools
- Subsidizing fruit and vegetables for “at risk” communities
- Put a ban on fast food meals at school campuses
While these suggestions may help, we feel it is not just about banning and limiting access to unhealthy foods or financial incentives to choose healthier foods. As dietitians we have also seen a lack in nutrition and food education and how it affects a person’s choice. Our further recommendations to the above would include:
- Social and town planning which is supportive of active lifestyles and access to healthy food
- Changes to food manufacturing and labeling
- Restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food, particularly to children and adolescents.
- Mandatory food, nutrition, cooking and physical education in schools
- Initiatives to address the family and parenting issues contributing to overweight and obesity including encouraging family meal times without television
However, it is very important to note that tackling obesity and overweight is a complex and individual issue which requires a long term, sustainable approach. Healthy eating behaviours must start young, we must teach parents to raise healthy children by education but most importantly learning through us as a society that puts nutrition and health at the forefront. We teach by doing not just saying.