Alarming NZ obesity trend – 2 million by 2030s

Obesity has become a huge health issue in the developed world, including New Zealand, to the extent that some predict that life expectancy may already be reducing.

When I was younger I could eat whatever I liked without worrying about my weight. But middle age changed that, and now I need to be constantly aware of my diet to avoid the dreaded middle aged spread.

It looks like I am in a shrinking minority.

RNZ: Two million New Zealanders will be obese by the 2030s – study

A new study is predicting two million New Zealanders could be considered clinically obese in the next 20 years.

The Otago University study found that Body Mass Index (BMI) of New Zealanders is on the rise and the average BMI is on track to be above the obesity threshold by the early 2030s.

BMI is only an approximate indicator but is commonly used as an easy measure of obesity.

An index between 18.5kg/m2 and 25kg/m2 is considered the healthy weight range – anything at 30kg/m2 or above is considered to be obese.

I’m usually near the top of the ‘healthy’ range, but that’s in part because I have relatively dense bones. I have been tested, monitored and body scanned in a University study a few years ago, and this showed I have a relatively high BMI for my height and weight.

You can calculate your BMI here: BMI calculator

Mine is 24.21, it drops by .32 for every kg I reduce.

While only one health factor the BMI is an easy way to measure trends.

Lead researcher Ross Wilson said obesity rates had tripled between 1977 and 2013.

“High BMI has now overtaken tobacco as the greatest contributor to health loss in New Zealand, which emphasises the public health importance of these findings,” Mr Wilson said.

Healthcare costs associated with treating obesity-related conditions in New Zealand were estimated to be $624 million in 2006.

Mr Wilson said given ongoing increases in obesity over the past decade, current costs were likely to be substantially higher than this.

Results from an annual Ministry of Health survey late last year showed that 1.2 million adults and 99,000 children aged between two to 14 were dangerously overweight.

Those figures have been increasing since 2011, with a rise of nearly 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively from 10 years ago.

Otago University Professor of medicine Jim Mann said those were terrible statistics but he was not surprised.

I’ve participated in a number or food studies in his department.

“My main reaction is one of continuing dismay … the population [for obesity] is horrendous, we’ve got an epidemic of obesity so it’s a good reminder that we’ve got one enormous problem in New Zealand,” he said.

Weight is a result of a fairly simple equation – energy consumed (via food) versus energy used.

But controlling weight is increasingly difficult for an increasing number of people.

As a population we are increasingly inactive, and also eat more, as well as eating a greater quantity of highly processed high energy foods and drinks.

One recent fad is using blenders to render more fruit and vegetables than you would normally consume into an easily digestible (and unnatural) mush. Why not just eat an apple or banana or orange?

One major problem is marketing – it is increasingly common to be urged to consume unhealthy amounts of relatively unhealthy foods. And many people are susceptible to this marketing.

I want to stay healthy as long as I can and live as long as I can, and make reasonable efforts to increase my odds.

One simple positive change is to train myself to look for quality of food, and less of it. In my youth I was largely interested in quantity. Smaller better servings are actually more enjoyable when you get the right sort of mindset.

One of my biggest motivations is from my determination to not get a pot gut. There are plenty around to keep reminding me what I should avoid – but it is something that can happen very quickly if you over indulge and under exercise.

Many people get trapped in overweight bodies. Once you have one it can be very difficult to turn things around, and even more difficult to keep things turned around.

One problem is that we are genetically programmed to stock up on fat reserves when there is an abundance of food, but unlike our ancestors we always have an abundance of high energy sugary fatty foods readily available.

So we need to retrain ourselves. That’s an ongoing challenge, but success can be quire rewarding. As rewarding as extending our lives, potentially substantially.

40 Comments

  1. MaureenW

     /  July 5, 2018

    Remove carbohydrates – problem gone.

    • Grimm

       /  July 5, 2018

      Because humans can survive without those. Along with air and water.

      • MaureenW

         /  July 5, 2018

        Carbohydrates are basically sugars and starch – not like air and water at all.

        • Grimm

           /  July 5, 2018

          Sorry, but remove carbohydrates all together and you want have much of a life. They are essential for energy. The problem is excess. But it’s excess calories overall, not how they are made up.

          • MaureenW

             /  July 5, 2018

            Get back to gazing at your navel.

            • Grimm

               /  July 5, 2018

              To be fair, you started this with a comment that just doesn’t stand any scutiny.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  July 5, 2018

        Surprisingly you can.

        The Inuit did it and are one of the healthiest races around.

        https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/nnqw3q/this-guy-has-eaten-nothing-but-raw-meat-for-five-years

        https://www.quora.com/Could-a-human-survive-on-a-100-meat-diet-meat-and-other-animal-products

        It just costs a lot more to replace carbohydrates with real food.

        • MaureenW

           /  July 5, 2018

          I don’t know that it costs a lot more, the thing you lose is cheap convenience. Because a high protein diet is more satisfying, you don’t need to eat as much or as often.

        • Blazer

           /  July 5, 2018

          blubber for breakfast,lunch and…tea.Fat…chance.

          • MaureenW

             /  July 5, 2018

            Greens are not blubber, eggs are not blubber, lean meat and fish is not blubber.

        • Grimm

           /  July 5, 2018

          Heart disease is common among the Inuit. You’re perpetuating an old myth.

          Their diet is also nearly half carbohydrate.

          Their life expectancy is much lower than others in Nth America.

          • Blazer

             /  July 5, 2018

            sorry.Relied on HFD.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 5, 2018

            It has become more prevelent as the western diet has infiltrated their culture.

            That is how carbs have entered their diet, which would explain the bad health they now suffer (along with poverty and desolate conditions for many).

            Innuits were studied due to the excellent health they have from a traditional high fat diet.

            “In the Nunavik villages in northern Quebec, adults over 40 get almost half their calories from native foods, says Dewailly, and they don’t die of heart attacks at nearly the same rates as other Canadians or Americans. Their cardiac death rate is about half of ours, he says. As someone who looks for links between diet and cardiovascular health, he’s intrigued by that reduced risk. Because the traditional Inuit diet is “so restricted,” he says, it’s easier to study than the famously heart-healthy ”

            http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/inuit-paradox

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 5, 2018

            I was trying to find this earlier –
            Two men who lived with the Inuit for many years and replicated the diet under medical supervision (but using only red meat, no fish) were studied for a year eating ONLY animal products – no carbs or veges. It is a fascinating study. The comments below the article have some to-and-fro over whether the Inuit were actually healthy or not.

            http://inhumanexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/09/two-brave-men-who-ate-nothing-but-meat.html

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 5, 2018

              Have you read Kabloona by de Poncins? A fantastic true story about traditional Inuit life and their seasonal migration.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  July 6, 2018

              I haven’t – but I will now. It looks excellent. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Griff

       /  July 5, 2018

      The girl was struggling with her weight all her life .
      She is now on a low carbs diet and no longer has weight a problem .
      A ketogenic diet is not for every one for some it is successful way to stop excessive weight gain.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 5, 2018

        I’d rather die than eat raw meat, Even handling it disgusts me.

        • admiralvonspee

           /  July 6, 2018

          Ceviche, non?
          Carpaccio, non?

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 6, 2018

            Les betes mortes ? Affreux ! Je ne mange pas de viande. Le sang….non, non, non !

  2. Blazer

     /  July 5, 2018

    the obvious lucrative career path is to become a lap belt surgeon,specialist.

  3. Gezza

     /  July 5, 2018

    One recent fad is using blenders to render more fruit and vegetables than you would normally consume into an easily digestible (and unnatural) mush. Why not just eat an apple or banana or orange?
    How does this help blender manufacturers? They have all that advertising to pay for.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 5, 2018

      It’s not that recent. Blenders have been around for years. We had one when I was a child, but it was called a liquidiser, I think. My childhood is, alas, not ‘recent’.

      My mother used to make a kind of smoothie in the liquidiser, and she is unlikely to have been unusual in using it for that. I remember banana ones, and loganberry ones among others.

  4. NOEL

     /  July 5, 2018

    Hold it we should have been on top of this eight years ago?
    https://www.parliament.nz/resource/0000026433

  5. David

     /  July 5, 2018

    NZers are huge compared to other races, big boned and bloody solid. Really notice it when you get home after being to the States and the UK. Yup there are huge people in the States but they are oddities rather than the norm.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 5, 2018

      I wish that people would stop referring to the obesity ‘epidemic’, An epidemic by definition is an infectious disease, and obesity is not contagious.

      • Gezza

         /  July 5, 2018

        epidemic – ɛpɪˈdɛmɪk
        noun: epidemic; plural noun: epidemics

        1. a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.
        “a flu epidemic”
        synonyms: outbreak, plague, scourge, infestation; More:widespread illness/disease; pandemic, epizootic;
        formal: recrudescence, boutade
        “an epidemic of typhoid”

        2. a sudden, widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon.
        “an epidemic of violent crime”
        synonyms: spate, rash, wave, explosion, eruption, outbreak, outburst, flare-up, craze; More: flood, torrent, burst, blaze, flurry; upsurge, upswing, upturn, increase, growth, rise, mushrooming;
        rare: ebullition, boutade
        “he’s a victim of the county’s joyriding epidemic”
        ……
        It has another meaning than just a contagious disease, as above. However, I would agree that it’s not an epidemic under either of those definitions because in the latter case, it’s not a sudden occurence. This has been a long-growing trend.

  6. PartisanZ

     /  July 5, 2018

    I am not what I eat …

    I am not even what I consciously believe … although that’s closer to it …

    I am what I psycho-somatically actualize …

    Obesity may not be about calories or even much about diet, it may be about meaninglessness, anxiety, guilt, dysfunctional relationships, unawareness, depression, repression and oppression …

    I don’t think anyone’s going to find a pill to cure it … although I dare say countless thousands of people and countless millions of dollars are being spent on trying … So we can keep on doing – actualizing – the very things that cause obesity …

    • Gezza

       /  July 5, 2018

      My feeling is that obesity is most likely most often about eating too much.

      • PartisanZ

         /  July 5, 2018

        I’ve eaten too much all my life … and way too fast for the first half of it too … and I’m not obese …

        You don’t think metabolic rate has anything to do with it?

        And what sets a person’s metabolic rate?

        Or the ‘psychic environment’ a person lives in?

        And what determines that …?

        • Gezza

           /  July 5, 2018

          If you’re not obese you aren’t eating too much for you. Yes, I imagine metabolic rate is very relevant, as is age & exercise – & there are some medications that can change metabolism so that diet, and/or portion size, &/or exercise amount has to change.

          Genes probably have a lot to do with setting person’s metabolic rate. My older brother was always chunky, & still is, & I was the complete opposite. I’ve put on some weight now because I don’t exercise enuf.

          I think all sorts of factors contribute to your weight, including your genetically determined body type. Eating too much, & too much fattening food, for the rate your body uses it will make you overweight.

          The circumstances that might cause it don’t change it.

          • PartisanZ

             /  July 5, 2018

            Nothing remotely psycho-somatic about any of it huh?

            • Gezza

               /  July 5, 2018

              Can you eat psych-somatics?

              Some people have a harder job than others keeping slim than others for a variety of reasons.

              What’s your theory? It’s all in our heads?

            • Gezza

               /  July 5, 2018

              God, that was a bit of a cock up.
              *Some people have a harder job keeping slim than others for a variety of reasons.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 6, 2018

            How your parents feed you and treat food is probably one of the most important determinants – was food used as a reward / treat, were portion sizes larger than required, were you forced to “eat everything on your plate” all the time, was the food variety limited and unhealthy.
            Once bad food habits are ingrained in childhood it is very difficult to change. So yes, eating too much has a big part to play, as does eating the wrong foods, as does your psychological relationship with food. And probably metabolism – although I have seen differing reports as to whether that is real or an excuse.

            • Blazer

               /  July 6, 2018

              ‘you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your….

  1. Alarming NZ obesity trend – 2 million by 2030s — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition