Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3888 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

past 15 years, making it now even more important than ever before to educate our youth about healthy eating habits.

Current figures show that obese children have 25 to 50 per cent chance of progressing to adult obesity. This risk can increase to 78 per cent for older obese adolescents and, despite the 2000-2002 ACT Chief Health Officer's report revealing the ACT enjoys excellent health in comparison to other jurisdictions in Australia, Australians, including Canberrans, are bigger than they have ever been.

Almost all cases of overweight and obesity are caused as a result of energy imbalance, meaning too much energy in and not enough energy out. Our increasingly sedentary society is consuming increasing amounts of high energy, usually high fat, foods and the combination is proving to be literally fatal.

The consequences are enormous, Mr Speaker. Estimates place the direct annual cost of obesity in Australia between $680 million to $1,239 million. Obese adults who were obese adolescents have higher levels of weight-related ill health and a higher risk of early death than those who become obese in adulthood. Childhood obesity can lead to orthopaedic conditions due to postural imbalance and excessive weight bearing upon joints. Obesity impacts on the wellbeing of children, with studies showing a consistent relationship between levels of overweight and dissatisfaction with their bodies as well as their levels of self-esteem.

Being overweight or obese can also lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and arthritis, all of which have major health implications and can reduce life enjoyment and life itself. I would add, Mr Speaker, that this also has significant impact on the increasing cost of our health industry, and this is something which, of course, we should be trying to avoid.

So why are we becoming increasingly overweight and obese? If the current ABS figures are any indication, the main reason is because we are not eating a balanced diet. Mr Speaker, I would like to say that I was surprised that 72 per cent, or nearly three-quarters, of the ACT population does not eat anywhere near the amount of fruit and vegetables needed for a healthy diet, and more than 45 per cent of Canberrans eat either no fruit or less than one serve a day. I would like to say I was surprised, Mr Speaker, but I am not. I am saddened and, of course, alarmed that this is the case.

The nutritional survey found that inadequate consumption of fruit and vegetables is responsible for 2.7 per cent of the total burden of disease amongst Australian. While 2.7 per cent may not sound like much, Mr Speaker, this represents a significant contribution to the cost of our health system. An increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables would have an extremely positive impact on our health system. I should add, Mr Speaker, that on the day prior to the survey a significant percentage of children had eaten no fruit or vegetables at all.

We know that fad diets do not work, but the sales of various fad diet books as well as quick solution diets continue unabated. I would love to be able to take a pill or potion and wake up at the correct weight and never have to worry about what I eat. Many people look to this type of solution but I know it is not the answer. The answer usually is:

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .