Like blow-up dolls

Sadly, Australia faces an epidemic. Worse, health experts are calling it “a frightening public health crisis”. The problem is obesity. Simple fact is, we are one of the fattest nations on earth.

Maybe this is one of the factors behind our recent slippage in global rankings of many sports. We still enjoy a global reputation as a sporting nation but perhaps its days are numbered. Certainly, we are no longer competitive in touching our toes.

Our latest national health survey reveals that 70% of our men and 56% of our women are deemed to be overweight or obese. In one sense we could celebrate this as a gain in our national affluence. As always, though, there is a price to be paid and, since we can’t take our money with us, dying early seems a waste of available funds.

It’s a lose-lose situation financially, too, when we consider the cost to the health system of treating all the flow-on maladies, disabilities and inabilities that accrue to being substantially overweight. Not only can we not take our cash with us, we should be just as mindful that government will ruthlessly tax us to cover the cost of over-burdened public health facilities.

The distressing aspect of the survey is how rampant the overweight issue is among children. One-in-five of our 5-17 year-olds are classified as overweight or obese. This has not risen in the past five years thanks possibly to school canteens taking pies, sausage rolls and other gut-busters off their menus.

Nor is the problem one that is just on show, so to speak. At least 20% of Australians have high blood pressure. They got me there. I might be slender but I’m stressed. Seems like no matter how much alcohol I drink, I can’t relax!

There is some good news, though, with rates of smoking and drinking in decline. They reckon that one-in-five Aussies toss down more than two standard drinks a day. I’m agog at such abstinence. That wouldn’t even qualify as a gargle for me! Oh, dear.

Mind you, I do take these epidemic warnings with a grain of salt (okay, I know that’s a bad thing). It’s this thing they call BMI or Body Mass Index. You can check the formula elsewhere on the ‘net but when they show photos of elite athletes (of the footballing type rather than gymnasts, it has to be said) who are deemed overweight or obese because of their BMI measurement, then I think the scales are out-of-kilter.

Meantime, I’ll just go whet my whistle to keep my fluids up for tomorrow’s exercise regime. It’s like being a bloody hamster in a wheel.