THE BATTLE of the bulge has never been harder to beat, especially for those in lower socio-economic areas.
According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre in the UK, nearly half of 10 and 11-year-olds living in poorer areas are overweight or obese.
That means kids from lower socio-economic households are twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared to their wealthier classmates.
And don’t take comfort in the fact these are British statistics.
Earlier this year, Roy Morgan research revealed only half of Queensland children ate salad, while those in poorer households filled up on noodles and nuggets.
In 2014, the study revealed 66 per cent of kids in poorer families ate hot chips, 55 per cent noodles and 41 per cent chicken nuggets.
The research showed while 54 per cent of parents in the top socio-economic quintile aimed to buy additive free food, only 40 per cent of those in lowest income bracket worried about additives.
In the UK, nearly half of 10 and 11-year-olds living in poorer areas are overweight or obese. Picture: iStock.Source:istock
Turning our attention to adults, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfarerevealed almost two thirds of women in the lowest socio-economic group were overweight or obese, compared with almost 47 per cent of those in the highest socio-economic group. In Australia, 1 in 4 children aged between two and 17 were overweight or obese.
Fitness and good nutrition cost money, there’s no question. In 2013, research published in the British Medical Journal revealed eating healthy costs significantly more per year compared to eating unhealthily. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats and less-prepared foods cost more than their over-processed, fast food counterparts. Healthy foods almost always come with a higher price tag, but there are tricks to eating well even when you’re on a budget.
“Education plays a big role and the value you put on health,” Julie Gilbert, Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia told news.com.au
“Wealthier families often understand labels, while lower income families find the space is so full of information, the complexity of labels aren’t very understandable, therefore are drawn to catchphrases and claims, which aren’t always accurate.
“It’s a myth that buying fresh produce is too expensive. Shoppers need to be smart about what they are buying. Getting fresh fruit and veggies in season is very important, because its much cheaper. A lot of our fruit and veg are on the market all year round, but when its out of season you’ll pay much more.
Often consumers disregard the quality of canned produce, which is significantly cheaper than their fresh of frozen equivalents.
“Protein or canned veggies are same price all year round. Nutritionally they are just as good, so a great way to supplement the diet,” Dr Gilbert said.
“Use generic brands and buying in bulk is another key thing. Breakfast, for example, you will pay just 0.15c for 30g of oats, compared to 0.40c for cornflakes. The latter has much higher sugar content than the oats.
“An apple is around 0.60c per 100g, while a chocolate bar for just 50g can sometimes be $2.15. It pays off to do the leg work and read.
Other ways consumers can save on healthy items include monitoring supermarket specials, adding canned beans and lentils to dishes for extra substance and purchasing whole foods, like chicken breast over diced or sliced.
Why healthy can actually be cheaper than the processed counterpart. Picture: iStock.Source:istock
But the biggest problem area for people was planning. The bottom line is, healthy eating does require time and energy to become cost effective, so most of us will need to adjust our expectations. Go back to basics, forget the supplements and the latest fads, and consume whole, fresh foods or frozen vegetables.
“People should look at doing some basic cooking lessons, either online or by using a cookbook. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but eating right is all about expanding your knowledge and educating yourself,” Dr Gilbert said.
“Some frozen veggies, a bit of rice and a boiled egg is not only super simple, it makes for a very cheap and healthy lunch during the week.”