Fast food, mindless eating & inactivity but smarter snacking: New research reveals the ‘Shape of Victoria’

Monday 22 June, 2015

New research released today by LiveLighter paints a vivid picture of the typical Victorian’s lifestyle, with many confessing to regularly eating fast food, skipping breakfast, and not doing enough exercise. But on a positive note, more than half of Victorians are grabbing fruit for a snack and many are changing their diets in a bid to improve their health and wellbeing.

The first annual Shape of Victoria Survey(i) analysed the eating and physical activity attitudes and behaviours of over 1,000 Victorians and found that unhealthy lifestyle choices appear to have become ‘normal’. The survey will provide a benchmark for future surveys and shows there is plenty of opportunity for Victorians to improve their diet and level of physical activity.

Where we need to shape up

  • Almost 50% of those surveyed said they didn’t realise how much they ate in a day
  • Up to 45% admit to overeating when they’re stressed or upset.
  • Almost 80% of those surveyed felt that overeating has become the new normal, and more than 85% believe that occasional treats have become every day foods.  
  • Half of those surveyed believed their diet was ‘healthy’, yet the majority practiced many unhealthy behaviours such as:
    • Only one in 14 ate the recommended amount of vegetables
    • Almost half regularly snacked on biscuits and chocolate
    • One in four ate takeaway at least every second day
    • One in three skip breakfast – a routine associated with overeating later in the day
    • One third are exercising only once a week at most.

Where we are in better shape
  • 58% of people regularly ate fruit as a snack. Other popular healthy snack choices were yoghurt (34.1%), vegetables (14.8%), and nuts (4.1%).
  • Around a third of those on a diet or weight loss plan were doing so “to improve general health and wellbeing”. This the right reason for going on a diet and usually results in better long-term outcomes.
  • Of the popular takeaway options, four of the top seven can easily be modified to be healthier such as choosing roast instead of fried chicken; grilled fish and salad instead of fried fish and chips; and adding lean protein to sandwiches such as tuna or egg.   

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO, Diana Heggie, said the survey shows that many Victorians appear to believe they’re living a healthy lifestyle, when in reality they’re not.

“We’ve become accustomed to overeating and having unhealthy foods readily available. 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 burn off,” Ms Heggie said.

“The danger is that when you eat more than you need to and aren’t 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.”

Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy said the Shape of Victoria survey results reiterate that more needs to be done to encourage Victorians to take greater care of their health and wellbeing.

“We as a community need to work together to improve our attitudes, approaches and habits towards healthier food choices and being more active," Minister Hennessy said.

"It is often our most disadvantaged members of the population who are most at risk of related chronic diseases, and so we need to work together to address this growing issue."

"We all lead busy lives but it's so important we take care of ourselves and our health and wellbeing."

Cancer Council Victoria Prevention Director, Craig Sinclair, said understanding our bad habits can help us to take small steps to overcome these.

“This data is clearly showing us where we can make small improvements in our eating and lifestyle habits that could make a real and very significant difference to our long term health.”

“By choosing to eat healthier meals at home more often, opting for healthier 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,” he said.

 

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LiveLighter is a public health education campaign which encourages Victorians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active. Funded by the State Government, LiveLighter is delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria in partnership with the Heart Foundation and is  part of Healthy Together Victoria - a critical public health initiative addressing the soaring rates of obesity across Victoria. 
 
The LiveLighter campaign is supported by a comprehensive, easy-to-use website, providing a wealth of information, resources and tools including an online meal and activity planner featuring healthy recipes that are easy to make. For more information, visit www.livelighter.com.au .


(i) LiveLighter asked 1,000 Victorians aged 25-49 about their diet and exercise habits as part of the first annual Shape of Victoria survey in April 2015. 

 

Contact:  

Shannon Crane on 0432 157 270 shannon.crane@cancervic.org.au
Sarah Terry on 0423 827 697 or sarah.terry@heartfoundation.org.au

Updated: 22 Jun, 2015