We're fat because we're confused

HEALTH experts have issued grim warnings about confusion driving the state's growing obesity crisis after learning only 4% of Queenslanders can tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy food.

A Diabetes Queensland survey gave Queenslanders an "F" for nutritional knowledge.

Nutrition Australia Queensland's senior nutritionist, Aloysa Hourigan, said the most common pitfall was people incorrectly identifying unhealthy foods such as  high-sugar breakfast cereals, Caesar salads and frozen yoghurts as healthy in a recent survey.

She said those foods were often marketed as healthy but actually contained high amounts of sugar, fat and salt.

"By not knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods, Queenslanders are placing themselves at a higher risk of developing potentially deadly chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes," she said.

"Basically, people are eating too much, too often and snacking too regularly on junk food.

"A single chocolate bar a day might not sound like much but over a year it could lead to weight gain of around 12kg. Simply saying no could help people shed up to 12kg a year."

Ms Hourigan said it was clear many people were overindulging on junk food, with the survey revealing widespread unawareness about how often we should be eating "extras" foods like chocolate and potato chips.

She said the survey found almost 80% of people were eating those "extras" up to twice a day.

"This exceeds the Australian Dietary Guidelines which suggest most Australians should eat very little or none of these foods as part of a healthy diet," she said.

"With this amount of confusion it is probably not surprising recent research found Queensland has the highest rate of obesity in Australia.

"Small changes can make a big difference. Simply saying no to extras can make a positive difference to your weight over time."

Ms Hourigan said people could use food diaries or phone apps to track what they were actually eating.

She said research showed recording how much was consumed helped reduce consumption.

The survey found:

  • 78% of people ate high sugar, high fat foods (cakes, chips, biscuits, lollies and chocolates) one to two times a day
  • 20% ate high sugar, high fat foods three or more times a day
  • On average, people ate high sugar, high fat foods 10 times a week
  • Almost 20% consumed sugary drinks every day.

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