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Child Health, Big Macs and $A

World Health Organisation (www.who.int) this week released results of a study of European school-aged children's health. It shows up to 35% of early teens are overweight and less than half of young people have the recommended 1 hour or more of moderate physical activity. A similar survey was released for UK children aged 2 to 19 (www.statistics.gov.uk). It shows that between 1995 and 2000 the percentage overweight increased from 18.6% to 20.3% for boys and from 23.5% to 26.6% for girls and the percentage obese went from 3.7% to 4.8% for boys and 5.7% to 6.8% for girls.

This week also saw the release of the doco movie “Super Size Me” attacking McDonald's. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (http://blogs.indiewire.com/morganspurlock/) eats only McDonald's for a month and watches his blood pressure rise, body fat increase, develops hypertension, depression and lassitude. Maybe this is reality filmmaking getting a bit unreal in discussing balanced diets – but these days to be heard above the global distribution cartel you’ve got to get out there on the extreme. Maybe it’s not the Big Mac that’s the problem but the fizzies and fries which are such good value add-ons with meal deals. And will we find out if Morgan had the 1 hour or more moderate physical activity – seems he did hit the disco floor in Sydney from his blog.

The Big Mac is so much a staple commodity around the world that the Economist (www.economist.com)has been using it to plot purchasing power parity (PPP) of currencies since 1989. This week’s edition gives the latest update showing the Australian dollar 22% undervalued to the US dollar on a Big Mac PPP basis. A Big Mac costs US$2.90 in the USA and the Americans need to bring US$2.27 (22% less) downunder to buy an Aussie Big Mac at A$3.25 each. Most expensive Big Mac is in Kuwait at US$7.33 and cheapest in Morocco at US$0.26. We have added the Economist’s history of the Aussie dollars relative Big Mac PPP valuation from 1989 to 2004 to the Miscellaneous Charts section in the Research Centre.

Posted Sunday, 6 June 2004

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