Why we are getting fatter

No one really wants to be a fattie, we’d rather look trim, taut and sexy. We don’t like the extra weight accumulating under uncomfortable tight clothing, or the associated loss of confidence. Heart disease and diabetes are no fun either.

But despite knowing this, a new Otago study on obesity says we are heading toward an obesity epidemic. Researcher Dr Ross Wilson said a high BMI is the greatest contributing health factor to disease and disability in New Zealand, even greater than tobacco.

Obesity rates have been rising steadily over the last 20 years and researchers expect that 50 percent of adult New Zealanders will be obese by 2038 if the obesity epidemic is not curbed.? Quote.

The research, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, shows the average body mass index (BMI) went from 26.4 to 28.3 between 1997 and 2015. At this rate, by the early 2030s it will cross over the obesity threshold of 30. End quote.

But is BMI an accurate measurement of obesity?? Not according to a sports trainer who noted that the All Blacks front row would all be classified as obese using the BMI or body mass index measurement.

Surely using BMI to measure obesity has got to be better than no measurement at all?? And anyway, how many of us are All Black forwards or gym junkies with a huge muscle mass? Quote:

It’s even worse for M?ori and Pacific people, and those living in social deprived neighbourhoods. By 2038 the BMI of Pacific people is projected to exceed the general population by 7.1 to eight. End quote.

It’s not rocket science to know what makes us fat. An inactive lifestyle and a diet of highly processed fatty food devoid of fresh fruit and vegetables will pack on the pounds. We all know this, but often just aren’t sufficiently motivated to do anything about it.

The economically deprived know it too, and they are even less motivated. When you live hand to mouth you get less fussy about what goes into your mouth. Quote.

Researchers Ross Wilson and Haxby Abbott say changes need to be made to public health policy to address the situation.

BMI and obesity rates are continuing to increase in New Zealand and our expectation is that they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” Dr Wilson said.

High BMI has now overtaken tobacco as the greatest contributor to health loss in New Zealand, which emphasises the public health importance of these findings.

The researchers said the forces behind the epidemic are largely the availability of high-energy, low nutrient foods and lower physical activity across all ages.

They say continued increases across the population will result in premature mortality, population health loss, increased healthcare system costs and workplace productivity losses.

Dr Wilson and Prof Haxby say changes to the cost of food and the promotion of more exercise is the best way to curb the epidemic.

A comprehensive obesity reduction strategy might include, among other things, improving the relative affordability of healthy foods (eg, through taxation, subsidies), restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods and promotion of active modes of travel such as walking and cycling,” they said. End quote.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts set up their first New Zealand store in South Auckland, the heart of the economically deprived, for good reason. It is the home of their target market.

Low-income families work long hours meaning they have less time to prepare nutritious homemade food.? They are financially poor, but more significantly, they are time poor.

They buy fast food, highly processed and loaded with sugar, fat and additives and like parents everywhere, they love to treat their kids. Voila! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is doing a roaring trade in South Auckland along with KFC, Burger King and Macdonalds.

The answer to stemming the obesity tide is in recognising the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet and making the right choices. It’s that simple. It’s a decision we all make every day, no matter how much or how little money we have.

We should help time-poor mums and dads spend more time with their kids, including preparing healthy meals and exercising. ?Less hours at work means more time at home which could reap huge rewards in the health stakes.

Employers who prioritise employee health and family is a great start to addressing the obesity epidemic because a healthy lifestyle does take time.