You are what you eat, they say. If so, Australians are shaped rather like a takeaway container filled with booze and meat, with nary a vegetable in sight.
Two reports released this week highlight the dire state of the nation’s nutrition. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report, Australia’s Food and Nutrition 2012, found 91 per cent of adults do not eat enough vegetables and only half eat enough fruit. One in five drinks alcohol at risky levels.
Households spent an average of $237 a week on food and beverages in 2009-10. By far the biggest component of spending was on food prepared outside the home, at restaurants and takeaways, where the average outlay was $63 a week. In second place was spending on alcoholic drinks, $32 a week, followed by meat, fish and seafood, $30 a week.
Australians spent just a few dollars more a week on fruit, nuts and vegetables than they did on condiments, confectionery, food additives and prepared meals.
So how’s that working out for us? Not so well, it seems.
In another section of its report, sensitively titled ”We’re getting fatter”, the institute finds 36 per cent of adults are overweight and a further 25 per cent obese. And we’re starting young. Of children two to 16 years old, 17 per cent are overweight and a further 6 per cent obese. That’s nearly one in four children with a weight problem.
Our increasingly sedentary lives are part of the problem, but this is swamped by the increased consumption of calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods.
Why do we eat so much crap?
A green paper released this week by the federal government on its National Food Plan hints at one reason. Obviously we eat lollies, burgers and chips because they taste great. But we also eat them because they are readily available and, wait for it, cheap.