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Essay: Australia and obesity

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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 28 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 868 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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Australia is the fattest nation in the world, and due to this there is an increasing obesity epidemic. The Brisbane Bariatric Centre (n.d) stated that obesity is an excess total of fat, which results from kilojoule intake that exceeds the energy usage, measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI). Whether it is lifestyle choices, genetics, parental, peer or social influence, these many causes are largely affecting the health of the nation. This research assignment will cover why with all the media coverage of obesity in society the numbers are increasing, and it will argue that individuals, families and society must change to be responsible for guaranteeing a decline in obesity epidemic numbers, starting now.
The Gympie State High School year 11 Home Economics class of 2015, have the surveyed the school community including teachers, parents and students in order to gain information about lifestyle choices (Appendix 1). The most significant figures out of each question was taken and put into percentages and the data is as follows (Appendix 2). Out of those surveyed, 55% saw themselves as overweight, 45% saw themselves as having a healthy weight while only 5 % saw themselves as obese. Out of these figures, 20% have take-away once a week, 45% have once a month and a small sum of only 5% have it once year, with the most predominant meal being take-away pizza. In addition, 95% of the participants stated that they were responsible for their own health, and in leisure time 50% watch TV and 20% spend it on their phone/ iPod. The statistics furthermore validate the undeniable fact that the nation is detrimental to its own health, through not eating healthy foods and spending large amounts of time watching TV/social media and not exercising.
The media has many outlets; television, print and social media sites, for example, Facebook or twitter. Due to this there are many ways for fast food companies to promote their products. The numerous advertisements showing delicious, appetising meals at an inexpensive price, is ultimately creating the desire in viewers to consume these products. Also, the simplicity and ease of driving and not having to put any time or effort into making meals makes it so much easier when in a hurry to purchase fast food and this relates directly to many Australians, especially mothers who work full time and are time poor. However, what many do not realise is no matter how tasty, quick and easy the food is to get, it is extremely unhealthy due to high levels of saturated fats, sugars and salts. These fats increase low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels which are linked to cardiovascular diseases (Better Health Channel, 2015) such as coronary heart disease and possibly causing heart attacks and/or strokes. Overall, these foods are contributing to the numbers of obese individuals, therefore making health problems more prevalent.
Obesity has many consequences in terms of health and the damage can be seen both physically and psychologically through many conditions. Depression, poor body image, low self-concept/esteem, behavioural and learning problems (Obesity Society, 2014) are just a few of the possible psychological conditions associated with obesity. Type 2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), High LDL cholesterol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, coronary heart disease, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease and some forms of cancer including endometrial, breast and colon/colorectal (Obesity society, 2014), (Cdc.gov, 2015) are the physical conditions. These illnesses are directly linked to obesity, and as a result doctor and hospital visits ultimately end up costing the economy millions each year.
The enormity of these visits in relation to the illnesses caused by obesity, the cost to the economy is into the millions. Data from (The growing cost of obesity 2008: three years on, 2008) clearly corroborates this and includes specific information with regard these associated diseases and health conditions. The many financial costs to the Australian health system can include the costs of running hospitals and nursing homes, GP and specialist services, the cost of pharmaceuticals, allied health services, research, productivity losses, carer costs, deadweight loss (DWL) from transfers, aids, equipment and modifications, transport and accommodation costs along with respite and other government programs. As well as the financial costs there are also the non-financial costs. These can include, disability, loss of wellbeing, premature death caused by the disease obesity and its affects which is measured in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), also known as Burden of Disease (BoD). (The growing cost of obesity 2008: three years on, 2008) also gives specific financial information from both 2005 and 2008 on obesity related diseases and the data is as follows. (Table 4-1: Cost Summary, Obesity ($M), 2005): In 2005 alone, the total of the diseases including BoD was at a whopping 21’013 million dollars with the individual diseases including: Type 2 diabetes at $2’289 million, CVD at $12’653, osteoarthritis at $2’027 and cancer at $3’954. This rapidly increases over the three year gap with Type 2 diabetes increasing 57.3% to $8’251 million, CVD increasing 71.4% to $34’565 million, osteoarthritis increasing 63.6% to $5’662 million and cancer increasing 72.4% to $9’701 million with a total of 58’179 million dollars. This data furthermore validates the fact that obesity is not only affecting the lives of Australians but also the Australian economy and due to this an immediate change is needed, and eating healthy and exercising each week can make the positive impact Australia so desperately needs.

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