In a bid to tackle the city’s growing obesity epidemic, nutrition experts are encouraging Ballarat residents to dine in.
The advice follows new research which revealed that those who spent the most time preparing and cooking meals ate more fruit and vegetables and spent less money on food away from home, compared with those who spent the least amount of time in the kitchen.
It comes during Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (February 16 to 22).
Ballarat Community Health dietitian Joanna Poon said the findings of the study, which examined more than 1300 people, were not surprising.
“There is often a misconception that fresh food and vegies are generally more expensive,” Ms Poon said.
“But the reality is, buying your own fresh food and produce to cook a meal is much cheaper than buying takeaway or packaged food and it’s better for you.”
The Dietitian Association of Australia revealed this week that more than nine in 10 Australians do not eat the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.
Last year, The Courier revealed that Ballarat was the worst Victorian region for cardiovascular disease. Nearly one third of residents (32.3 per cent) have CVD, which causes heart attacks and strokes.
A geographical snapshot of Australia’s heart health, released by the Heart Foundation last August, also found that Ballarat was the worst region in the nation for physical inactivity (85.3 per cent) and that 32.9 per cent of residents were deemed obese.
Ms Poon said the message for this week was for residents “to get back to basics”.
She urged residents to make small changes, such as including more fruit and vegetables or controlling portion sizes.
“It’s about encouraging people to cook more at home so they have total control over what they are putting in their meals,” Ms Poon said.
“Nutrition plays a role in cardiovascular health because it is a combination of eating right and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
Ms Poon urged anybody in need of nutrition advice to contact their local dietitian or visit their nearest community health centre.
As part of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, Ballarat Community Health is providing free recipes to the community.
BCH is also holding a seven-day social media cooking challenge, which encourages residents to post photos of their nutritious home-cooked meals every day this week.
Prizes for the most creative entries will be awarded at the end of the week.
To enter, post your photos on the Ballarat Community Gym at Lucas Facebook page and tag it with #AHWW or #BCH7in7. For details, call 5338 4500.