The experience of food insecurity can have lifelong health impacts, a Ballarat Community Health dietitian has said, after the release of a report researching food insecurity in Ballarat.
The Monash University report found 68 per cent of 100 charitable food relief clients surveyed recorded a BMI considered overweight or obese.
The survey results reveal complex health impacts from food insecurity.
Ballarat Community Health dietitian Carly Taylor said the survey showed those experiencing food insecurity were undernourished.
“Clients were inadequate in all the food groups and that definitely puts them at risk for other diseases and illnesses, lacking in things like iron, calcium, and vitamins and minerals that all contribute to our wellbeing and health,” she said.
The report found 79 per cent of those accessing charitable food relief couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals.
Surveyed clients consume only one serve of vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat on average over a 24 hour period.
For someone experiencing poverty, the first priority is to just get food, so the quality of food can go down.Carly Taylor, Ballarat Community Health dietitian
Ms Taylor said the experience of food insecurity could have lasting impacts on metabolism and relationship with food.
“It can be a feast and famine cycle,” she said.
“When there is food available it is probably a matter of taking what is available. When the famine kicks in the body switches to a survival mode which is better able to store fat in fear of another starvation period coming.
“There is also an increased risk of developing disordered behaviours with food. When food isn’t secure there is increased risk of binge eating, overeating, and the development of an eating disorder.
“Someone’s metabolism can also be affected by stress hormones.”
The survey found 69 per cent of respondents felt stressed because they couldn’t afford enough food.
Foodbank announced it will establish a food hub in Ballarat on Thursday.
Ms Taylor said the new Foodbank would go a “long way” to improving diet quality with improved access to fresh foods in Ballarat.