More and more, Australians are finding themselves struggling to feed themselves, and the problem is getting worse.
In the past five years, the number of Australians under the age of 25 without enough food to eat has risen by nearly 30 per cent, according to a new study by the University of Melbourne.
“This has been a major issue,” Professor Tom Daley, a nutrition expert from the University, told ABC News.
Daley and his colleagues analysed the diet and food consumption of more than 2.6 million Australians aged 15 and older, as well as the food and drink habits of those who didn’t have access to it.
“The findings highlight the challenges facing young Australians,” Daley said.
The researchers analysed food, drink and diet data for about 1.7 million people aged 15 to 75 from 2009 to 2015.
The researchers found that a high-fat, high-sugar diet and a low-carbohydrate diet were the main drivers of the growth in obesity among the population.
The authors found that people with the lowest levels of dietary fat were more likely to be obese than those with the highest levels.
Dr Peter Jones from the Melbourne Institute of Public Health said the findings suggested that young people could be at increased risk of developing obesity.
“There’s a really significant gap between the intake of nutrients that we need and what we’re actually eating,” he said.
“We’re getting increasingly dependent on the foods we eat and the way we’re eating them, which means we’re not getting the nutrients we need.”
Dairy products, grains and potatoes were also popular with Australians aged 25 to 34.
The research found that the average Australian had more than 30 grams of carbohydrate a day.
This compares to just 5.5 grams a day for the average person aged 65 or older.
While Australians tended to consume less meat than people of other nations, they still ate more processed foods, according the researchers.
But this may not be a problem, as there was no difference in the proportion of processed food eaten by Australians aged under 35 and those aged over 65.
The authors also found that Australians with lower levels of physical activity tended to have higher levels of obesity than people who had a higher level of physical inactivity.
Dr Jones said that the high prevalence of obesity among younger Australians could be due to “the lifestyle and diet of people in their 30s”.
“We have this generation that’s really trying to be active, but they’re really struggling to do it, and this is really driving that,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
Professor Daley believes there is a simple solution to the obesity crisis.
“I think we need to get our focus back on the quality of food we eat,” he explained.
“And it’s not just about reducing the quantity of sugar, but the quality.”
Professor Daly said that Australia needs to “wake up and recognise what the problem actually is, and why it’s happening”.
Topics:health,food-and-cooking,nutrition,diet-and/or-nutrition,obesity,nutrition-and and-metabolism,united-statesFirst posted January 08, 2020 16:37:48Contact Karen O’SullivanMore stories from Victoria