Cooking at home = Prescription for healthy weight
More than half Australian adults are unhappy with their weight, with many wanting to eat better, trim portion sizes and cook at home more.
The national Omnipoll survey of 1,230 Australians aged 18-64 years, commissioned by Australia’s peak body for dietitians, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), revealed around 52% of adults want to lose weight.
The survey also found around one in three (34%) want to boost their vegetable intake, a quarter (26%) are aiming to reduce portion sizes, and around one in five (19%) want to cook at home more.
The research comes as DAA launches Australia's Healthy Weight Week (15-21 February), which calls on Australians to make simple changes towards smart eating, starting with cooking at home more often.
According to DAA Spokesperson Professor Clare Collins, research shows that people who regularly make their meals at home have better overall diets. They are more likely to eat smaller portions and take in fewer kilojoules and less fat, salt and sugar, compared with people who rarely eat home-cooked dinners.
And in turn, this is more likely to result in a healthy weight.
Professor Collins said by improving skills in home cooking, Australians can 'up' their vegetable intake by more than half a serve a day – an important finding given more than nine in 10 Australians don’t eat enough vegetables.
She said the Omnipoll survey also found around one in ten (14%) Australians currently eat out or buy take-away three or more times a week.
'These days, we're often in a hurry and can fall into a habit of eating take-away foods or snacking on unhealthy foods and drinks. Another challenge, in a culture with a 'supersizing' mentality, is eating portions sizes that are too big.
'Cooking at home is one way to pack a punch when it comes to keeping your weight in check and improving your health, and that of your family. At home you have control over what goes into your meal and how much you serve up, so it’s the ultimate healthy weight weapon,' said Professor Collins, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
She added that healthy home cooking can be quick, easy and cheap.
Professor Collins called on Australians to rise to the challenge and kick-start healthy eating habits, starting with cooking at home every day during Australia's Healthy Weight Week.
And she recommended getting the right nutrition advice and support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Professor Collins said for Australians wanting to shape up, a realistic weight loss of around 2-4kg a month could be achieved with healthy eating, correct portion sizes and regular physical activity.
'Being a healthy weight helps lower your risk of lifestyle-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer – and importantly, helps you to feel your best and live life to the full. And the good news is it’s never too late to start,' said Professor Collins.
In support of Australia's Healthy Weight Week, Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash said: 'I applaud this initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia. The Australian Government is committed to tackling obesity and educating Australians to eat better and lead healthier lives.'
Ms Nash chaired the inaugural meeting of the Healthy Food Partnership in late 2015, which brought together government, public health and the food industry to work collaboratively on these issues.
Find out what's on near you this Australia's Healthy Weight Week, and get nutrition tips and recipes, including the free Everyday Healthy II cookbook, developed by DAA and Sprout, at www.healthyweightweek.com.au.
14 February 2016.