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Healthy Living Paradoxes

This week's Economist highlights the paradox of the 21st century where the rich are thin and the poor are fat and the 18th-century where the rich were fat and the poor thin and when Malthus wrote essays about projected overpopulation outstripping food supply. (This is a little simplistic as we still have 800 million people without enough food ? but few of them read the Economist!)

The above paradox is attributed to the evolved physiology of man which is designed to store energy in good years to carry through lean years. Fast food means there are few time gaps to the next available meal and no impluse to stop people eating. Improved agriculture technology and free trade also help keep the food supply up to speed no matter what the local seasons do.

Also released this week is the ABS survey of Health Risk Factors 4812.0 (www.abs.gov.au). It hints at other contributors to the above paradox. Physical inactivity is more prevalent for lowest socio-economic groups (40%) compare to 25% for highest social-economic groups. Physical inactivity is attributed to 7% of disease burden. Other risk factors and their attribution to disease burden in the ABS survey are obesity (4%), smoking (4%), high blood pressure (5%) and cholesterol (3%). This is just what you wanted to read during Christmas party season!

Posted Wednesday, 17 December 2003

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