Here in Australia, we think we are kinda’ healthy and well informed about healthy food, exercise and generally living a healthy lifestyle. We do! We think this, and we’re wrong.
Have you had a good look around at lunchtime? Might sound a little crazy but the food nerd in me can’t help but see what people eat, and holy moly, it is a bit scary out there.
If you’re reading this post you’re likely already making decent food choices, but if we as a society don’t start to get serious about educating people about healthy food choices, the situation is going to continue (and by ‘situation’ I mean Australia suffers from one of the highest obesity levels in the world, and we have increasing rates of chronic illness such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease).
We recently studied the “Sociological Imagination” (DARE I reference Wikipedia but it really is the most straightforward explanation of this complex sociological concept http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociological_imagination) at uni, which is the view that society plays a key role in shaping the people within it, and that there are structural, cultural and critical elements that contribute to the situation that someone finds them self in.
This concept can be directly applied to food in our society. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for individual accountability and taking control of our own health, however, in my opinion more needs to be done to educate and encourage people to make healthy food choices (and to exercise, but this post is only long enough to rant about one of these aspects). Why is it that often in any CBD food court that are no salad bars, or maybe one meazly little sandwich/salad bar amongst the Mexican place, the fish and chip shop, the Indian takeaway, KFC and Maccas? Why is that the line to get schnitzels doused in gravy and chips is way longer than the line to get a freshly made sandwich? Have a look next time you’re in a cafe or food court or out to lunch and just take a peek at what people are eating. I know it sounds a little creepy, but really it is fascinating! Especially because the portrayal of Australia is the outdoors, lots of amazing fresh food, sunshine, active lifestyles, the beach – the reality is that a small proportion live this way. We have a disaster on our hands otherwise, with more sedentary lifestyles, more TV time, less outdoors, less fresh food and more pre-prepared meals.
Over 25% of children aged 7 – 15 years in Australia are considered to be overweight or obese. How do they get to be that way? Parents? Absolutely. Poor food choices? Absolutely, and that means we are missing the mark in educating these little Aussies (and their parents). By the way, that statistic of 25%+ was from a 1995 survey, at which time the prevalence of obesity in our kids had doubled since 1986. Can you imagine what it might be now? And adults, well 41% of males and 25% of females are considered to be overweight in this country, and chronic illnesses such as Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes are becoming more prevalent. In 2007-08, 787,500 Australians had Type 2 Diabetes. This is a lifestyle disease peeps, and by now there is probably a million of us that have it. Pretty scary in a population of only 24 million.
Anyway, any of you that know me know that I am a pretty positive kinda’ gal and I would much prefer to write about new foods, fab recipes that I have developed or discovered, emerging research in health – but this has been on my mind for ages and I just had to share! After all, we all have a responsibility to look after each other, and if we are all on the same page we can tackle this widespread, seriously ingrained issue together. Let’s all think and act healthy.