Victoria’s poorest at greatest risk of weight-related disease

Tuesday 10 November, 2015

Victoria’s lowest income households have the highest rates of obesity, lowest intake of vegetables and do the least amount of exercise compared to other households, putting them at greatest risk of chronic disease, new research from LiveLighter Victoria has found.

A survey of Victorian adults aged 25-49 revealed that in households earning below $55,000 per year:

• Almost 1 in 3 adults report being obese (30% vs. state average 20%)
• Almost 1 in 4 only eat one main meal a day (23% vs state average 17%)
• 1 in 12 do not eat vegetables (8% vs. state average 4%)
• 1 in 6 do not eat fruit (17% vs. state average 9%)
• More than 1 in 3 don’t exercise or only exercise once a week (34% vs. state average 29%).

Anna Peeters, Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University and Expert Advisor to the LiveLighter campaign, said the survey results show how environmental factors, such as the affordability and availability of food, influence people’s diets and overall health.  

“We know that for those with less money, there are many more barriers to healthy eating and regular physical activity. For example, people on lower incomes often live in regional areas and outer suburbs where access to affordable healthy food is limited, and unhealthy cheap fast food is readily available and heavily promoted,” she said.

“We need to make environmental and individual changes to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for people on low incomes.  Increasing the availability of affordable healthy food, providing areas for recreational physical activity, limiting fast food outlets and increasing health literacy are important steps for improving health outcomes for disadvantaged Victorians.”

Unhealthy lifestyle and excess weight dramatically increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

With overweight and obesity now one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in our community, LiveLighter is working to raise awareness of the link between weight and chronic disease among all Victorians, with a focus on people on low to middle incomes.

LiveLighter Victoria Program Manager and Accredited Practicing Dietitian Alison Ginn said there were ways people could reduce their food bill while incorporating more healthy options.  

“When you’re living week to week and juggling a multitude of other priorities, eating a nutritious meal is difficult to prioritise. Choosing seasonal fruit and vegetables and using frozen and canned varieties are more affordable ways of buying fruit and vegetables. Also, prepare as many meals at home as possible. Though a single takeaway meal can look cheap, in the long run cooking at home is really much cheaper than eating takeaway.”

 

LiveLighter is delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria, in partnership with the Heart Foundation, and funded by the State Government.

 

Editor’s note: LiveLighter asked 1,000 Victorians aged 25-49 about their dieting and weight loss behaviour in a survey in April 2015.

 

Contact:  Shannon Crane on 0432 157 270 shannon.crane@cancervic.org.au   

Olivia Kostandinov on 0433 877 403 olivia.kostandinov@cancervic.org.au

 

Victorian adults’ diet and lifestyle behaviours by income

Household income

Vic average

< $55,000

$55,001 - $70,000

$70,001 - $85,000

$85,001 - $100,000

>$100,000

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Underweight

3%

3%

1%

5%

5%

3%

Healthy weight

48%

45%

43%

45%

45%

51%

Overweight

29%

21%

35%

32%

31%

32%

Obese

20%

30%

21%

18%

19%

15%

Main meals per day

One

17%

23%

15%

17%

21%

11%

Two

26%

32%

30%

18%

24%

31%

Three

50%

40%

49%

60%

50%

53%

Four

3%

3%

6%

2%

2%

3%

Five or more

3%

2%

1%

3%

4%

3%

Daily vegetable intake

Don't eat vegetables

4%

8%

5%

3%

4%

1%

1 - 2 serves

52%

49%

54%

48%

57%

52%

3 - 4 serves

34%

28%

35%

41%

33%

37%

5 serves or more

8%

5%

7%

6%

6%

8%

Unsure

3%

10%

0%

1%

0%

2%

Daily fruit intake *Includes fresh, dried, frozen and tinned fruit

1 serve

41%

40%

36%

42%

41%

46%

2 serves

34%

24%

36%

44%

38%

37%

3 serves or more

9%

10%

10%

8%

10%

8%

Don't eat fruit

9%

17%

10%

5%

6%

6%

Unsure

6%

9%

9%

1%

5%

4%

Physical activity per week

None

17%

17%

15%

20%

17%

13%

One day

13%

18%

12%

13%

15%

12%

Two days

18%

20%

17%

23%

15%

19%

Three days

17%

15%

13%

21%

18%

19%

Four days

10%

6%

12%

10%

7%

12%

Five days

11%

9%

15%

8%

13%

11%

Six days

5%

5%

6%

3%

7%

4%

Seven days

7%

6%

8%

3%

9%

9%

Unsure

2%

3%

2%

0%

0%

2%

Please note: 152 (15%) of survey respondents did not wish to disclose their household income

 

Updated: 10 Nov, 2015