Victoria's Citizen's Jury on Obesity
The conversation about Australia's burgeoning obesity epidemic is one that never really goes away. Towards the end of 2015, our Execs, Spencer and Margaret, offered their two cents (and a whole lot of sense) to the ideas and solutions for Victoria's Citizen's Jury on Obesity.
The Australian Obesity Epidemic: A look into Australian’s naughty eating habits
Written by Spencer Davis, VicSRC Student Executive member
The obesity epidemic has spread its way through the world like a wildfire, even Australia has been affected. This is only a recent issue, with the number of obese Australians doubling in the past 20 years (Monash University, 2013). It has left dieticians and public alike asking how it happened, and more importantly what can we do to stop it. Though many ideas have been presented, it is clear that the best way to fight this is education. Educating young people is clearly the best way to counter an issue that affects thousands of young Australians. Education would highlight the wider benefits of a healthy diet as well as the dire consequences of obesity. Education would also cut the problem out at the roots meaning it would not just come back a generation later.
While education does not lead to a loss of fat, it is a strong prevention. With 25% of young Australians being obese (Australian Government, 2008) prevention is clearly a better option than a cure. If obesity can be tackled in young people, it will also spread to the people in their life. Parents will be forced to cook more healthy foods and will feel a psychological need to keep up with the younger generation. This then creates a symbiotic health relationship between parent and child where both support the other to make healthy choices in their lifestyles. Education leads to helping all generation in the fight against obesity.
“We must not constantly talk about tackling obesity and warning people about the negative consequences of obesity. Instead we must be positive - positive about the fun and benefits to be had from healthy living, trying to get rid of people's excuses for being obese by tackling the issue in a positive way.” -Michael Lansley (Lansley, 2008).
Key discussion points
Written by Margaret Tran, VicSRC Student Executive team
What have you learned about food, obesity and overweight that you think others should know?
Life is about being happy in your body and about treasuring each day while it lasts. Being happy in your body means treating it right; nourishing it with healthy foods, shaping it with exercise and respecting it. I think that being overweight means that you're not happy in your body because you are not respecting it; you're not respecting your mind, your physical health and your social health.
What would make it easier for you and your friends to eat better?
Food is an amazing necessity that we are fortunate to have. We should treat our self with delicious scrumptious sugary or unhealthy foods but only in moderation. Because healthy food doesn't always have to be boring.
Do you believe anything needs to be done about Victoria's obesity issue? Why?
Yes of course, Victoria's obesity issue is steadily increasing and so we need to act now. Obesity isn't just physical but it affects thousands mentally and internally. It is an illness/disease that can kill people because they are not educated about what they are putting into their mouths.
What possible solutions do you think exist for government, industry and communities?
• Encourage physical exercise and healthy eating by creating accessible phone apps that people can use to track their fitness - apps that give healthy tips - apps that provide free recipes.
• Run programs for girls in schools teaching them about body image and self-esteem.
• Ensure all young people find 1 type of sport or exercise they love to do. I.e. Yoga or Pilates.
• Limit screen time.
For more from Margaret and Spencer, download their full Citizen's Jury submission.
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