Health is more than just kilojoules

OPINION – A recent report by Victoria University and Torrens University revealed that more than half of the adult population in Bacchus Marsh is considered obese.

The report showed 69 per cent of the population were overweight, with more than 33 per cent suffering from high cholesterol and 23 per cent having high blood pressure. These are alarming statistics.

In April this year, the Andrews Labor Government announced that by 2018, all major food outlets and supermarkets will be required to display kilojoule contents on their menus. A step forward in reducing the state’s increasing obesity. But is this enough?

I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have any of the necessary qualifications to tell you what you can and can’t consume, but why are we advertising a menu that focuses entirely on kilojoules?

There are more than ten meals on the McDonald’s menu that come under 2,500 kilojoules, one being a McChicken burger with a side salad and a diet soft drink (1,790 kj). Sure, if you’re counting and aiming for 8,700 kilojoules a day, this meal comes well within your weight loss plan, but it also increases your chances of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and out-of-control blood sugar.

It is all too easy to become so obsessed with kilojoule control that we often overlook the most important aspect of food – the nutrients.

The state government says displaying appropriate labelling will ensure Victorians make informed healthy choices, but where on the menu does it state the extent of saturated fats, sodium, sugar and empty carbs?

A lot of fast food menu items will have more than half of our daily allowance for saturated fats and sodium, meaning we may be eating a low-kilojoule meal, but we’re still putting ourselves at risk of developing chronic diseases.

The quality of the food we consume is more important than the actual number of kilojoules contained in it and we need to do more to educate our community and promote health as being more than just a number.

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