Do you live in a “food desert”? It could be making you fat 9



View Profile

It’s a term many of us have never heard of before but ‘food deserts’ are a real thing, and according to public health experts, they’re causing major obesity and diabetes issues across Australia.

Work has begun to map out Australia’s food deserts, and the consequences of living in one. A food desert is a locale that has limited access to healthy food shops, but unhealthy foods are much more easy to access.

If you live 1,600 metres or more away from a supermarket or green grocer, and the nearest takeaway shop is closer, you’re living in one.

According to Dr Thomas Astell-Burt from the University of Western Sydney, who has spent the last year mapping Australia’s food deserts, it’s all about convenience for people who live in food deserts.

“A person gets home from a hard day’s slog at work or picking up the kids or looking after dependents, then it’s easier, and more convenient to go to the fast food retailer or the take away”, he told the ABC.

Sydney is the first part of Australia to be mapped and food deserts are abundant, with more in the western suburbs. And according to Professor Glen Maberly, a diabetes specialist at Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals, the area has “about two to three times the chance of having diabetes compared to the seaside suburbs and the inner-city suburbs, and it is related to the food that we eat”.

There are ways of tackling the issue, and it involves the health sector, councillors, community workers and governments. We also play a part in deciding what we put into our bodies.

But sometimes it isn’t so easy, particularly if you don’t have a car or limited mobility, however with supermarket deliveries, there’s now a level of access that wasn’t there before.

So we want to know today: do you think you live in a food desert? What healthy and unhealthy options do you have around you?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I can’t speak for anyone else but recently I was tested for diabetes and cholesterol, I was delighted to find out I neither had diabetes or high cholesterol. I think much of it may be genetic, none of my family had diabetes, but I don’t eat takeaway or what I would call rubbish, chips and lollies and cakes etc and I only drink water and coffee with very little light milk and no sugar.. I have no idea if that has anything to do with it

  2. I live in an area of plenty, and can even grow my own. I do wonder if obesity is not about food but rather about what is happening in the individuals mind, coping skills, confidence, self worth … how do we address these? I am overweight as well!

  3. I don’t think it’s a time wasting study. I think councils need to play a part in this as well. I was appalled at the arrival of Krispy Kreme doughnuts outlet. I just couldn’t believe this could happen when we had just had a big campaign against getting diabetes,and this area, my biggest shopping area, has some of the most obese people in Western Sydney!

  4. I think genetics have a lot to do with it and science seems to be finding out all sorts of things that impact our weight besides diet. I am obese as were my parents, is that genetics or learned poor diet. The only thing I ever add sugar to is porridge, I have low fat milk, we rarely eat fried food at home but may when we go out. From our home in a SA country town we have first a Chinese Takeaway, a Pizza shop/cafe, a bakery, takeaway fish chips and hamburgers then our supermarket. All though are no more than three blocks away.

  5. I supermarket shop fortnightly. There is no need to get take away if you have a full fridge freezer and pantry. I top up with fresh milk, bread and other items during the week. Perhaps teaching our students meal planning would be a better idea.than classifying in such a way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *