This question is prompted by a response to a survey released in Australia today.

This survey paid for by Subway restaurants was conducted on line, and so it doesn’t represent the Australian population in a balanced way.  However the results are thought provoking.

Over 90% of those who responded said that they needed to be fitter and 80% said they should eat better.

They also gave reasons (called ‘excuses’ (!) in the reporting of the results) for why they didn’t exercise more and eat better.  These were such things as:

too tired, something else came up, they couldn’t be bothered, and the weather was poor.  About 40 per cent of people said the main barrier to achieving a healthy lifestyle was they did not know where to start or what to do.

Now for the response I find so disturbing.  It comes from a dietitian, Kate Di Prima.  She has this to say:

“Everyone knows the importance and benefits a healthy lifestyle can bring and that they should exercise and eat well – but a startling number of Australians just aren’t doing it, and it comes back to the same old excuses”.

In her view,

“The key to tackling the obesity problems in Australian society today is educating the large amount of people who may not understand how their everyday eating habits impact upon their health,”.

This in response to a finding that people aren’t acting on what they already know!  And the reasons people have are dismissed by being re-labelled ‘excuses’!

In short the response is to moralise and treat it as an individual problem.  This is probably the professionalised mindset at work.  Instead of dealing with the context (perhaps its too many demands leading to tiredness, it may be that suburbs are badly designed so there is little opportunity for pleasant exercise, perhaps indoor venues are needed to deal with the weather) individuals are simply blamed.

This is probably good for professionals egos.  It doesn’t help anyone exercise more or eat healthier.

Do you think you are acitng on what you know about food and exercise (I’m not sure I am)?  What would help you exercise more and eat healthier?

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