Fast food consumption is high, along with high rates of activity but people are eating healthier snacks, according to the first Shape of Victoria survey.
The survey revealed high rates of fast food consumption, and widespread inactivity; but on the plus side, more than half of those surveyed claim they are eating healthier snacks, such as fruit.
The research analysed eating and exercise attitudes and behaviours of more than 1000 Victorians and concluded that unhealthy lifestyle choices have become the ‘norm’ with a need for improvement in diet and activity levels.
The results showed that:
- Almost 50% said they did not know how much they ate in any one day.
- Up to 45% admitted to overeating when there were stressed or upset.
- Almost 80% said that overeating has become the new ‘normal’.
- More than 85% said that they believe what had been regarded as treats in the past were now considered every day foods.
- Half of those surveyed believed their diet was unhealthy, but did little about it.
For example, only one in 14 consumed the recommended amount of vegetables; half regularly consumed biscuits and chocolate; one in four ate takeaway at least every second day; one in three skip breakfast (which is associated with eating more later in the day); and one third only exercise once a week, at most.
The good news
Nearly 60% of those surveyed regularly ate fruit as a snack: other popular snacks were yoghurt, vegetables and nuts.
Additionally, people who were dieting or on a weight loss plan said they were doing so for ‘general health and wellbeing’. And for those who ate takeaway foods were choosing roast, instead of fried chicken, grilled fish and salad, and lean protein in sandwiches, such as tuna or egg.
According to Heart Foundation CEO Diana Heggie, the survey reveals a mismatch between what Victorians thought were healthy lifestyle choices and what they actually did in real life.
She says we have become accustomed to overeating and access to unhealthy foods.
“Many people also seem to be falling into the habit of ‘mindless eating’ which can add up to a lot of extra kilojoules, which are difficult to turn off,” she says.
“The danger is that when you eat more than you need to and are not as active as you should be, toxic fat can build up around your vital organs, putting you at risk of serious health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”
The Victorian survey results demonstrate that more need to be done to encourage Victorians to improve their health and wellbeing, says Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.
As a community we need to work together to improve our attitudes, approaches and habits about food choices and activity, she says.
Cancer Council (Vic) prevention, director, Craig Sinclair says understanding our “bad habits” and help people take small steps to overcome them.
“The data is clearly showing us where we make can make small improvements in our eating and lifestyle habits that could make a real and very significant difference to our long-term health,” Sinclair says.
“By choosing to eat healthier meals at home more often, opting for health snacks like fruit, nuts and low-fat yoghurt; and incorporating more physical activity into our day we can start to make a healthy difference to our lives and the lives of others.”
The survey was part of the LiveLighter public health campaign delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria in Partnership with the Heart Foundation.
It is supported by a website, www.livelighter.com.au, which also includes information for consumers, recipes and an activity planner.