A new study released by the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health found that men are most likely to put on weight over winter with 53% of males envisaging a 2-5kg weight gain compared to 38% of females.
The study is one of the first to investigate winter eating habits in relation to fast and snack food consumption. The research revealed that:
- Nearly half of Australians expect to gain up to two kilos this winter;
- 90% say they eat more fast and snack foods and takeaways because they make them feel warmer and happier;
- 36% of Australians are concerned about putting on weight this winter; and
- 59% say weight gain will be caused by exercising less and eating more fast and snack foods and takeaways.
The NSW Food Authority and NSW Health encourage people to visit www.8700.com.au to calculate their ideal daily kilojoule figure and make informed healthier food choices this winter.
NSW Food Authority Chief Scientist, Dr Lisa Szabo said many people are not aware of how many kilojoules they actually consume.
"Last year, only eight per cent of people surveyed knew that the average daily kilojoule intake is between 8000-9000kJ. We're already seeing an improvement in understanding this year with 12% of people indicating 8000-9000kJ - but there's still some way to go."
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said the findings of the new research were concerning given that one in four adults in Australia are obese.
"Using the online tools and resources, Australians can now easily calculate their ideal kilojoule intake, search food outlets to see how many kilojoules are in the food they are eating and learn about how exercise can help burn kilojoules.
"These messages are particularly important for younger people so they can develop healthier eating habits before they become overweight or obese."
The 'winter eating habits' research highlights that:
36% of Australians believe the main cause of weight gain is exercising less on a weekly basis;
25% say the main cause is eating more fast and snack foods and takeaways;
26% will crave these foods out of habit; and
Gen Y's are most likely to put on the winter weight, with two in five Gen Y's (44%) admitting so, compared to one third of Baby Boomers (33%).
TV presenter and fitness expert Michelle Bridges said, "Winter is a pivotal time for weight gain. We exercise less when it is cold and dark, stay indoors more and seek comfort in fast and snack foods and takeaways. We usually don't notice the weight we've gained until September-time and by then it can be pretty difficult to shift for spring and summer."
"Australians will now be made aware of the kilojoule content of some foods that may have been part of their diet and can take action by exercising more and being more selective in their food choices."
The 8700kJ campaign is being supported by Dr Joanna McMillan, Michelle Bridges, Trent 'Maxi' Maxwell (Bondi Rescue Lifeguard) and the Heart Foundation who are all committed to helping Australians win the war on weight this winter.
For more information see www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBGPuaizab8&feature=youtu.be
Question: 36% of Australians are concerned about putting on weight; what are your top tips for not gaining weight in the winter months?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Keep exercising by either buying appropriate training gear to walk, run or cycle outdoors, or change your routine to more indoor sessions such as the gym or pool. Cook more of your meals from scratch rather than relying on take out, and when you do eat take out use the kJ displays to make smarter choices (ie lower kJ). Eat three square meals a day and minimise snacking. Drink tea between meals instead.
Question: In Winter the appeal for summer fruits and salads disappear; which foods are best to snack on during the cooler months?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Certain fruits are always available eg. apples, bananas and oranges. Nuts and seeds are great for snacks. Homemade smoothies make with frozen berries; milk and natural yogurt are great. Warm cocoa made with milk, pure cocoa powder and cinnamon.
Question: What should we be looking for when ordering take away meals?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Look for more plant food (ie vegies), some lean protein from fish, meat, beans or tofu, and where possible wholegrains over white processed carb-rich foods. The kilojoule count is the easiest way to spot the less energy dense options and stay within your ideal figure.
Question: If we find ourselves standing in a food court, what is best to order?
Dr Joanna McMillan: During winter when you want warming foods, the best options are soups, stir-fries and vegie-based meals. Use the kJ counts and look for a meal that uses up only about 1/4 to a maximum of 1/3 of your daily intake.
Question: What quick and easy substitutes do you have instead of take away meals?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Buy a ready roasted chicken and then all you need to do is steam or stir fry a heap of vegies to go with it. My favourite is to throw as many different veg into the wok with some lean meat or frozen prawns, tamari, garlic and ginger. Served with brown rice or buckwheat noodles it's a quick easy meal. Or I throw a heap of veg, a cup of barley or quinoa, and sliced chicken into a soup for a meal in one.
Question: How can we motivate ourselves to leave the warm house and go to the gym or head outside to exercise in the cold months?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Write your sessions into your diary and then stick to the plan. It's all about getting into a routine rather than relying on motivation in the moment. Give yourself an event to train for, or a goal to achieve by the end of winter,
Question: What is the 8700 Campaign?
Dr Joanna McMillan: It's an awareness campaign from the NSW Food Authority to help consumers understand what kilojoules are, how many they need in a day and how to use that awareness to make better food choices in chain food outlets. Find out more info here www.8700.com.au - you can work out your ideal kilojoule figure and also download a free app to help you manage your daily kilojoule intake.
Question: Settle the debate: are we better to count kilojoules or calories and why?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Kilojoules are measuring the same thing as calories - it's just the metric system. In the same way that we use kilometres instead of miles, and centimetres instead of inches, we should use kilojoules instead of calories.
Question: Why do you think so many people are unaware that they are consuming way too many kilojoules, daily?
Dr Joanna McMillan: Because so many modern foods are energy dense. You get many more kilojoules per bite of food that when you eat more natural minimally processed foods. This makes it easy for us to overeat.
Interview by Brooke Hunter