University of Sydney Professor of Dietetics Margaret Allman-Farinelli, said: “Obesity may take over from smoking as the number one risk for cancer, with a lack of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, exercise and increased alcohol consumption to blame.”
She was speaking ahead of a seminar reflecting on 50 years of dietetics in the country, which also heard that middle-aged women are increasing their alcohol consumption.
This trend could be linked to bigger serves of increasingly alcoholic wine. These women, whose tipples are closing the gap on men, are also gaining weight.
The event also heard that PhD candidate Monica Nour has recently published research highlighting that young Australian men eat the fewest vegetables, which is linked to health problems including increased obesity.
To address this, she is developing an app to influence fruit and vegetable intake among young adults through gamification.
With 95 percent of Aussies owning a smart phone and 91 percent on social media, she said it seemed like the best platform to utilise.
The app will include a self-monitoring veggie tracking programme - a specialised function similar to apps like MyFitnessPal - though hers will focus on nutrient dense food intake rather than calories.
She will also gamify the app with opportunities for users to be rewarded with badges when they hit their targets, helping users to set goals and receive personalised feedback.
“People can also access videos and quick tips addressing barriers such as costs through the social media site. We’ve also included shopping lists and recipes,” she said.
“We demonstrate what an adequate serving of vegetables looks like and show how preparing your own food can be cheaper.”