Exclusive: Australia is in the grip of a human energy crisis, with new data showing burnout has become a No. 1 health worry for men and women across the country.
Experts blame work and lifestyle for the new trend, which is reflected in increasing numbers desperate to feel better.
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Research shows “feeling better and having more energy” is given as the biggest reason for Australians wanting to change their diet — more so than losing weight, looking good or medical advice.
Surprisingly, a lack of energy is a common theme across all ages, sexes and states, although women are feeling it worse than men (82 per cent of females compared to 67 per cent of males).
More than 1500 Australians aged over 18 were asked to pick the biggest trigger for eating well as part of Taste’s landmark study, Recipe for Health.
Energy is both the number one trigger for healthy eating and the main health benefit Australians want from food, cited by 71 per cent nationally.
Behind it came “losing weight” at 65 per cent, “improving my overall health” at 62 per cent, “protect my health” at 56 per cent and “a change in my physical appearance” at 38 per cent.
Australians across all age groups rate energy as the most important reason for eating healthy, with those aged 18-54 citing in 74 to 77 per cent of cases, and the over 55s in need of it the most (81 per cent).
And it’s the same in every state, although South Australians feel it most and Tasmanians the least (SA, 69 per cent; ACT: 68 per cent; QLD, 65 per cent; NSW, 64 per cent; VIC + NT, 63 per cent; TAS, 57 per cent).
Experts yesterday warned that the fuel slump is because of our lifestyles and diets, but said it is fixable — and they urged Aussies to take a simple online test as a first step to turning that around.
Filling in the annual Great Aussie Eating Survey at Taste.com.au helps give a national snapshot of our habits.
Everyone who completes it will receive a free seven-day Energy-boosting Dinner Plan, along with their personalised health score and health summary.
GP Ginni Mansberg, author of Why Am I So Tired?, said Australians are running out of fuel because they work too much.
“We know that Australians work the longest hours in the OECD, and we know for women in particular we are shouldering the vast majority of the home-based work … while we often still take up the burden of paying 50 per cent of the mortgage and the bills by working full time.
“The sheer number of hours we are devoting to work is having several impacts; one it’s clocking up stress; two, it’s eating into our sleep time; and three … it’s impacting on our ability to shop, cook and prepare wholesome and nutritious meals for our family,” she said.
“So while we are loving getting on Instagram and looking at fantastic salads and vegetable offerings our ability to translate those into a practical reality for our families is diminishing. We just don’t have the time. And the result is we are lacking in energy.”
Her advice is to take the time to plan meals ahead that are easy and within your budget.
Leading obesity expert Dr Nick Fuller from the University of Sydney and author of the book, Interval Weight Loss, said weight problems were also fueling the nation’s fatigue crisis.
“It’s tied into the fact that 77 per cent of the population are struggling with their weight,” Dr Fuller said.
“Fatigue and energy and everything that goes with that is often a consequence of carrying excess weight and not looking after or prioritising our health.”
‘I find it very easy’
There was a time when Meltem Tinci weighed 113kg.
That was just six years ago when she was first diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.
The Sydneysider underwent gastric band surgery and is now nearly half the size she used to be at 65kg.
But surgery alone wasn’t the answer for Ms Tinci, who has since had two children.
Like the rest of us, sticking to a healthy diet has been key to keeping her weight controlled — and her energy levels up.
“I wanted to be the mother that runs around,” she said.
“A healthy diet makes you feel better; and the better you feel, the better you get through the days and the weeks overall. Your energy is more pleasant.”
Ms Tinci juggles a career in marketing and events with parenthood.
She said loading up the fridge at work with lots of fruit and vegetables makes it easier to stick to a healthy diet during the week.
“It’s a no-brainer, it’s there in the fridge,” she said.
“I find it very easy; I love eggs and avocado so that helps, it’s cheap and easy too.”
Importantly, Ms Tinci’s healthy habits have infiltrated family meal time.
“I generally cook healthy at home so my family eats what I have. I’ll do a good grilled chicken and a pot of rice for them or make a stir-fry that everyone can eat.”
She urged Australians to join the Great Aussie Eating Survey and turn their health around.
“If you are healthy and happy it feeds on to others, it feeds on to your family and your colleagues,” she said.
Take the annual taste.com.au Great Aussie Eating Survey now to receive your personalised Health Score and recommended Healthy Eating Plan. Everyone who completes the survey receives a bonus complimentary Energy-boosting Meal Plan. Go to taste.com.au/eatingsurvey