Promotion of healthy eating and prevention of eating disorders have become one of priorities in Australian public health. Eating disorders have become persistent as 10% of diseases are food- or drink-related (Victorian Public Health 2011). Furthermore, the rate of overweight people is growing steadily and the rate of Australia’s adult obesity is 5th highest in the world (Victorian Public Health 2011). Australia spends more than $56 billion on treatment of these health problems (Lawrence 2009).
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Notably, all Australians are in a risk group, though the younger generation is the most vulnerable group. This group requires specific attention as young people are Australian future. Scully et al. (2012) have found that the rate of obese secondary students is only 5% while the rate of overweight students is almost 20 %. The researchers trace an alarming trend as the number of overweight and obese children is increasing.
However, Dick et al. (2012) also add that a number of preventive measures and plans are effective and can be implemented in all educational establishments. Clearly, it is essential to efficiently address the issue which can negative affect the development of Australian society. It is necessary to identify major determinants of the problem and existing and possible preventing strategies to understand whether the problem can be solved in the future.
It is possible to point out a number of determinants at different levels. Nevertheless, they are more persistent at the social level. One of the factors contributing to the spread of unhealthy eating habits is financial insecurity. Thus, families with low income cannot afford healthy diet due to high cost of the so-called healthy eating basket. Kettings, Sinclair and Voevodin (2009) stress that Australian families with average income spend 20% of their earnings on healthy food. Thus, families with average income can afford healthy diet.
Nonetheless, less well-to-do families especially those dependable on welfare have to spend around 40% of their income on healthy food (Kettings, Sinclair and Voevodin 2009). Admittedly, these families cannot afford healthy food or have to limit consumption of healthy food to minimum. This leads to development of unhealthy eating habits in the family and children acquire these habits which can be difficult to changes in the future. Therefore, financial insecurity of people contributes to eating-related disorders.
Apart from this social determinant, it is necessary to note that different business strategies negatively affect development of healthy eating habits among Australians. For instance, healthy food basket is less affordable for people living in rural and distant areas (Ward et al. 2012).
Huntley (2008) concentrates on indigenous people who are also vulnerable as they reside in distant areas where healthy food is almost inaccessible. It is also necessary to note that supermarkets and other retail units offer significant amount of unhealthy food which is much cheaper than healthy food.
More so, Roberts et al. (2012) emphasise that children’s television advertising contributes to development of unhealthy eating habits in children while corresponding regulations prove to be ineffective. The researchers claim that more than 80% of food advertised on children’s channels can be classified as “Extras” according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (Roberts et al. 2012).
Apart from ethical issues, advertisements can have a negative impact on children’s health. Companies have to be responsible and media has to be regulated. Admittedly, Australian government has to develop more effective regulations to address the issue. Thus, these social determinants can be regarded as factors having the greatest impact on development of Australian people’s eating habits.
It is necessary to add that numerous interventions exist though some of them are not effective. For instance, Pollard (2012) notes that effectiveness of monitoring in indigenous areas is doubtful. It is important to consider the some effective interventions to understand whether the issue can be effectively addressed in the future.
Kent, Thompson and Capon (2012) consider effectiveness of land zoning for development of healthy eating habits. The researchers state that there is a lot of land appropriate for farming and gardening. Therefore, it is possible to provide enough healthy food to Australians tables. Researchers also stress that these incentives can regulate prices of healthy food in distant and rural areas. Researchers note that local authorities should be able to secure the right of people to access healthy food.
As has been mentioned above, Scully et al. (2012) stress that existing regulations on obesity prevention in educational establishment are effective as the results of the survey held show quite small amount of obese students.
Thus, students have access to healthy food in their schools’ canteens. This has two implications. In the first place, it enables students to have access to a healthy diet. They get enough nutrients to develop properly. Secondly, it contributes to development of healthy eating habits. Students tend to affect eating habits within their families.
Clearly, this is important for development of healthy eating habits in the Australian society. Dick et al. (2012) provide an illustration of a successful intervention.
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Thus, the Smart Choices healthy food and drink supply strategy for Queensland Schools resulted in decreased number of obese and overweight students in schools of Queensland. Again, the researchers report that students’ eating habits have changed and become healthier. Notably, students living in the area understand the importance of healthy eating and know a lot about healthy diets.
In a nutshell, it is possible to note that healthy eating is one of the most serious issues which need specific attention. More so, this issue has to be addressed on different levels. Individuals, officials, organisations and authorities have to work out effective strategies and incentives.
It is important to remember that low income families, indigenous people and especially children and teenagers are the most vulnerable groups. These groups have got most attention. Of course, there are numerous effective strategies. Thus, land zoning and the Smart choices incentives are effective. Hence, it is possible to develop other interventions based on successful experience of the programs mentioned above.
I would also like to add that the present research has helped me develop skills and knowledge which can be useful for my in the future. First, I acquired more skills in searching for information using reliable sources. I have had the necessary practice in analysis.
This will help me in my future employment as employees involved in different projects should be able to implement research and provide in-depth analysis. I have also learnt a lot about existing issues in the sphere of Australian public health. Now, I have acquired quite extensive information on healthy eating in Australia. This will help me in my future career as I will pay the necessary attention to this aspect when working with patients.
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Huntley, R 2008, Eating between the lines: food & equality in Australia, Black Inc., Melbourne.
Kent, J, Thompson, S and Capon, A 2012, ‘Healthy planning’, in S Thompson & P Maginn (eds), Planning Australia: an overview of urban and regional planning, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, pp. 381-409.
Kettings, C, Sinclair, A & Voevodin, M 2009, ‘A healthy diet consistent with Australian health recommendations is too expensive for welfare-dependent families’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 33. no. 6, pp. 566-572.
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Pollard, C 2012, ‘Selecting interventions for food security in remote indigenous communities’, in Q Farmar-Bowers, V Higgins & J Millar (eds), Food security in Australia: challenges and prospects for the future, Springer, New York, pp. 97-113.
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Scully, M, Morley, B, Niven, P, Pratt, IS, Okely, AD, Wakefield, M 2012, ‘Overweight/obesity, physical activity and diet among Australian secondary students – first national dataset 2009-10’, Cancer Forum, vol. 36. no. 1, pp. 1-4.
Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011–2015 2011. Web.
Ward, PR, Coveney, J, Verity, F, Carter, P, Schilling, M 2012, Cost and affordability of healthy food in rural South Australia, <https://www.rrh.org.au/public/assets/article_documents/article_print_1938.pdf>.