Why Australians Are Spending $8.5B on Weight Loss Programs, Wellness Products and Services
In a 2015 report of The Sun corp Bank Cost of Being Fit, it was found out that Australians spend as much as 8.5 billion dollars every year on gym memberships, sports equipment, and on the latest weight loss programs and wellness fads.
We take a look at possible reasons on this current trend in the country’s multi-billion dollar weight loss industry.
Increased Obesity, Increased Demand for Weight Loss Programs
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports an increasing trend in the number of Australians who are overweight or obese from 1995 (56%) to 2008 (61%) and to2011 (63%). With the many potential health risks of being overweight or obese, it is not surprising that many Australians are aiming to slash excess fats from their bodies and hence the expected increase in the demand for weight loss programs and various sports and gym equipment.
Here are some of the health risks that are associated with obesity.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease or CHD is one of the primary health risks associated with obesity. In this medical condition, a plaque builds up within the coronary arteries, which blocks the arteries from supplying blood to the heart. This plaque is brought about by a person consuming excessive amounts of harmful fatty foods.
High Blood Pressure and Stroke
Being overweight has shown to increase a person’s chances of developing high blood pressure which can lead to ischemic stroke (caused by clotting) and other coronary artery diseases. When the blood pressure rises beyond normal and stays that way for a long period of time it can damage the blood clot, such as the formation of a clot. If the clot occurs in close proximity to the brain, it can lead to stroke.
Obesity or being overweight can also cause type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs when the body improperly uses insulin, the hormone that is responsible for turning glucose from carbohydrates into energy. Diabetes can lead to further complications like kidney diseases, coronary heart diseases, stroke, or blindness.
Obesity can also lead to certain forms of cancer, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, or endometrial cancer. When there is too much fat, the body can malfunction and produce unnecessary hormones and growth factors. This can significantly affect how the cells work within the body.
As these cells are altered, the possibility of developing free radicals also increases. These free radicals damage the normal cells which then lead to the development of cancer-causing cells.
Other diseases include: gallstones, reproductive problems, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea.
These serious health scares are driving most of the Australian population to get fit, and they are willing to spend a staggering amount to cope with their perceived failing health conditions. From organic foods, to diet plans, to health juices– majority of Australians who are overweight or obese would pay a premium to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. These translate to weekly bump on the normal budget of a regular household.
Human bodies were long ago designed to hunt and gather foods. The normal body was therefore expected to constantly keep an active lifestyle while there was food scarcity. This scenario allowed the humans to consume whatever food is currently available– causing the body to burn whatever calories are needed, and then store the remaining as fat so that when food is scarce again, it will use those deposited fats as alternative energy source.
Today, we live in a very different environment. Food is served so easily that the human body would not have to spend a significant energy to get it. Add to this the proliferation of fast foods where food items are packed with excess oils because frying is the fastest way to cook meals.And serving foods fast is in keeping with everybody’s busy lifestyles. The Enhanced Media Metrics Australia reports that on average, Australians eat in fast food restaurants every week,with 60% of those are within the 14-29 years old range.
Then there’s food processing. In order to keep food from spoiling quicker, excess amounts of salts or sugars are added. That’s not even mentioning the many harmful chemicals that are added just so food can extend its expiry date years later.
All of these things compounded the accumulation of excess fats on the body of the average modern Australian whose lifestyle if predominantly dormant.
Government’s Response to Obesity
Another significant reason for the rise in popularity of weight loss services and products is the government’s efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle for the Australian household.
In 2008, the Australian Federal Government included obesity to the list of national health priorities and added it to the rank of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease as major ailments that need significant attention. This move has prompted the government to implement 20 acts related to this cause. These acts include the implementation of tax incentives to make healthier alternatives of fruits and vegetables to become more affordable, and implemented laws that mandate the lowering of sugar and fat levels in processed foods.
Taking their cue from the government, the Australian population’s response is to support the move by turning to the leading fitness companies throughout the country. With their desire to get fit supported by the government, spending for this industry was therefore expected to rise.
Wellness as a Status Symbol
Being health conscious has gradually penetrated the upper class of Australian society and many are jumping the bandwagon. Wellness is now being used as a status symbol. And it doesn’t come cheap.
Aussies would not hesitate to buy the latest trend in sports or gym equipment if it means giving them the privilege to feel and look posh to their friends in the real world, and especially on social media. Not only because it symbolises their advocacy for being health conscious but more importantly because they can afford it.
The increasing demand for gym equipment and other workout tools have prompted various companies to offer the most sophisticated but very expensive gear, equipment, and all the way down to the workout attires. Many are biting this marketing ploy. Hence, there is an increasing trend in Aussie spending for the latest fads in gym equipment and sports attire– all of these add to the already-ballooning lucrative business of the weight loss industry.