Poor nu­tri­tion fu­elling obe­sity

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Sarah Wa­ters

AUS­TRALIANS are putting on weight faster than peo­ple in any other coun­try, but many peo­ple are un­aware of the ef­fects of food and drink on their health, says di­eti­tian Ana Gowrea from the South Metropoli­tan Pop­u­la­tion Health Unit.

“Health-re­lated prob­lems due to poor diet are on the rise,” she said. “In the last 30 years, obe­sity has dou­bled world­wide.

“In Aus­tralia, two out of three adults are over­weight or obese and one in four of our kids are above the rec­om­mended weight for good health.”

Mrs Gowrea said too many peo­ple were con­sum­ing foods high in en­ergy, added or re­fined sugar, sat­u­rated fat and salt and not eat­ing enough nu­tri­tious whole foods such as veg­eta­bles, fruit and dairy that are es­sen­tial for op­ti­mal health.

“We do know that up to 30 per cent of our diet now is from dis- cre­tionary foods – ones that have low nu­tri­ent value, but are high in fat, salt and sugar,” she said.

“Added sugar is a cause for con­cern. It is usu­ally added to pro­cessed foods and they are empty calo­ries, so you don’t get any other vi­ta­mins and min­er­als from them apart from the kilo­joules or ex­cess en­ergy.”

Mrs Gowrea said the pub­lic was bom­barded with a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about food, lead­ing to poor nu­tri­tional choices.

Peo­ple were also mak­ing food choices out of con­ve­nience and habit, in­stead of think­ing about their health.

“Peo­ple go, ‘I need a drink’ so they go for a soft drink, but what you re­ally need is to hy­drate and grab wa­ter in­stead.

“We do a lot to try and get peo­ple to pause, stop and think, ‘What am I putting into my body?’

Mrs Gowrea over­sees com­mu­nity-based food pro­grams through the South Metropoli­tan Pop­u­la­tion Health Unit (SMPHU) that aim to ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity about bet­ter nu­tri­tion.

Th­ese in­clude sup­port­ing lo­cal sport­ing clubs and recre­ational venues to “green up” their menus, work­ing with the City of Ar­madale to help lo­cal pri­mary schools in­clude nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion in the school cur­ricu­lum and help­ing peo­ple to de­velop skills and con­fi­dence to cook healthy meals on a bud­get.

“It (views to­wards health­ier eat­ing) is start­ing to swing, be­cause you get to the point where peo­ple are start­ing to have the symp­toms of bad health – they’re not as mobile be­cause they’re over­weight or obese, or they have un­man­aged Type 2 di­a­betes and just feel un­well.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it some­times gets to that point for them to do some­thing. But on the flip­side, if they’re a mum and dad who have that, then they think, ‘I re­ally need to do some­thing with our kids now’.”

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