Australians will move less and eat more, research says

???Australians are expected to drink less alcohol, spend less on tobacco and eat more fruit and vegetables over the next five years, according to new research. But they will continue to battle with weight.

The report conducted by IBISWorld, which specialises in industry market research, compiled an index of health indicators to look at Australia's receptiveness to a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The health indicators used included alcohol consumption, smoking rates, fruit and vegetable consumption, obesity levels, and participation in sports and physical recreation activities.

IBISWorld industry analyst Bao Vuong said obesity levels would continue to rise in Australia as participation in organised sport and other forms of physical activity is expected to fall over the next five years.

He says people from all age groups will instead "spend their time on alternate activities" and that the "decline in sport participation is projected to reduce the pool of potential consumers for the sport and equipment retailing industry".

Jane Martin, executive manager for Obesity Policy Coalition, says "the rise in obesity is mostly driven by unhealthy diets" and that awareness isn't enough but rather action needs to be taken.

Ms Martin said some of the ways to reduce obesity is to "reduce the amount of junk food advertising seen by children and implement a health levy on sugary drinks".

"Also increasing the availability of healthy food over junk food is important and a good example is the NSW government's policy to removing sugary drinks and improving the food available in hospitals and health facilities."

For 20-year-old Sarah Karaoglu, who is studying to become a personal trainer, it has only been over the past couple of years that her "interest in health and fitness has increased" despite her father being a former professional wrestler.

She says it's a surprise that sport participation will decline as "sport is a massive part of Aussie culture and way of life".

"With so much knowledge accessible to us about the benefits and importance of fitness I don't see why it would decline."

Sarah Karaoglu exercises on Coogee beach

Sarah Karaoglu on Coogee beach Photo: Daniel Munoz

However, Ms Karaoglu says the kinds of exercise people pursue may be a factor as "everyone thinks of being active as going for long runs or playing specific sports when really there's so many options".

She says if people explored different sports and found what suited them, than perhaps they would be able to enjoy it and stick to it.

In 2015 more than 63.4 per cent of Australians were obese, and this number is set to reach to 65.2 per cent by the end of 2018 for those aged 18 or over.

However, Mr Vuong says people are becoming more aware of their weight problems and the social costs of obesity.

"As obesity levels in Australia increase, more consumers will become more likely to consider weight loss options," Mr Vuong said.

Ms Martin says there is a national strategy under consultation to address obesity, similar to the National Alcohol Strategy.


The popularity of smoking is expected to decline over the next five years, as expenditure falls following the introduction of tax on tobacco in September last year.

Mr Vuong says: "The first increase in the tobacco excise in September 2017 is expected to continue encouraging smokers to quit due to the high cost of tobacco."

He says the government will continue to increase the tax on tobacco until the end of 2020, and believes that this will "negatively affect sales for the tobacconists and specialised grocery retailing industry".

When it comes to alcohol consumption, beer, wine, spirits and ready-to-go drinks have declined over the past years and are expected to decrease further by 0.1 per cent during this year.

However, when it comes to cider Mr Vuong says its consumption has increased thanks to marketing campaigns that have contributed to the growth in its sales and popularity.

"Consumer tastes are projected to continue shifting towards locally produced premium products from craft cider breweries over the next five years, contributing to solid growth in the cider production industry," Mr Vuong said.

Despite an increased health awareness among Australians, the consumption of fruit and vegetables is expected to fall 1.4 per cent in 2017-18.

The decline isn't because Australians were no longer health conscious, Mr Vuong says, but rather the weather changes this year which will "cause vegetable prices to rise, and fruit and vegetable consumption to fall".

Another contributing factor is the increase in Australia's ageing population as they "consume a higher volume of fruit and vegetables compared with young and middle-aged individuals".

Mr Vuong says this increase in consumption will be "projected to drive demand for the fruit and vegetable-retailing industry".

This story Australians will move less and eat more, research says first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.