Obesity crisis: The food choices that are making us fat

Obesity is a global epidemic, but James Tonkin uncovers some simple changes we can make to fight this growing health crisis.

You don’t even have to get out of your car to get a meal these days, but at what cost?

“It feels like the most normal thing in the world to pick up a take-away meal at a drive-through – but it wasn’t so long ago in evolutionary terms that we couldn’t imagine getting so much sugar or saturated fat in one meal,” James says.

Obesity costs the Australian health system more than $14 billion a year and it’s only getting worse. It is  estimated that 35 per cent of us will be obese by 2025.

Obesity can lead to complications such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers.

Dr Nick Fuller, research program leader at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and author of Interval Weight Loss, says obesity is a major problem that needs to be treated seriously.

A new generation at risk of obesity

“It’s a disease and if trends continue the way that they are, by 2022, we will have more children and adolescents obese than there are children and adolescents are who are underweight,” he warns.

Researchers are looking into the exacerbating factors of this epidemic – from gut flora and stress to sedentary lifestyles.

“When you consider that we Aussies make a staggering 51.5 million visits to fast food outlets every month, it seems processed food is a big part of the problem,” James says.

obesity epidemic

Exploring the ‘root cause’

One family on a mission to change all this are the Smiths.

They are touring Australia in a big green bus to help school kids understand the benefits and joys of eating good food.

So far the Smiths have visited 90 schools and 20,000 students.

Mum Bel, a health and wellness coach, says she was able to cure her husband’s postnatal depression by changing his diet – and so began Root Cause.

“I read a report that said our kids as a generation were likely to have a shorter life expectancy than us as parents,” Bel says. The family decided to travel Australia to make a difference.

What’s in my food?

“When you see what kids are eating on a day-to-day basis, it’s not great,” says Bel.

“Our aim is to empower kids to ask the question – what’s in my food?”

James says the Smiths are teaching children that wholefoods are better than processed foods.

“ It seems this is the right way to treat the obesity epidemic, by nipping it in the bud,” he says.

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Zoe, Ed, and the team.