Posted by admin on 05/16/06 in Positive Spin
By Peter Jean. 16 May 06
The humble bicycle may be a key to solving the obesity crisis sweeping much of the world, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has been told. The inquiry into children, young people and the built environment heard obesity rates were increasing in almost all parts of the world except in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Tim Gill, of the Centre for Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Sydney, said Australia and the United States had among the highest obesity rates in the world, but even poorer countries such as Iraq were catching up.
“They’re starting at a much lower rate, but their rate … of increase is extremely similar in Brazil, in Japan, China, in India, in South Africa and Iraq,” he told the inquiry.
Dr Gill said although the citizens of Denmark and the Netherlands had become heavier in the past few years, they had lower obesity rates than the rest of Europe.
He attributed this to their fondness of cycling and walking, and the infrastructure that enabled them to do this.
“They have poor diets, eat lots of meat, lots of high-fat foods but they have cycling infrastructure and walking infrastructure which is pervasive,” Dr Gill said.
The obesity epidemic could be defeated if most Australians made small improvements to their diets and exercised more, Dr Gill said.
“If we could get everyone doing a little bit more or eating a little bit less, we could prevent the obesity epidemic at the population level,” he said.
A submission to the inquiry by Dr Gill and other Sydney University academics said improved infrastructure such as better cycle ways and playing fields were needed to enable young people to exercise more.
They also wanted more cycle ways to sporting venues and shopping centres.
The inquiry continues.