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How healthy is your family

How healthy is your family

Alarming new data from leading health business Bupa shows that young parents under 40 are showing dangerously high levels of obesity, compared to people of the same age who are single or don’t have kids.

The Bupa Family Health Survey[1] revealed 61 per cent of surveyed parents under 40 years were overweight based on their Body Mass Index (BMI[2]). This is in stark contrast to 40 per cent of couples without kids and 45 per cent of young singles.

Bupa Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Bates said obesity shouldn’t be seen as an inevitable option for families.

“Family life can be go, go, go, and we know sometimes parents’ health can suffer due to a busy household. While this can have serious implications for the parent, it’s also easy to forget that kids are picking up on mum and dads’ behaviours along the way.

“It’s concerning that many young parents have reached such an unhealthy outcome at such an early age. In order for kids to learn the behaviours they need to live a healthy lifestyle early, parents need to show them how it’s done,” said Dr Bates.

Results from a recent American study3 suggested that parents’ ability to lose weight was a significant contributor to their children’s ability to lose weight and battle against childhood obesity[3].

Dr Bates was particularly concerned that the Bupa survey findings around fathers were so extreme.

Fathers with kids at home had the most alarming figures, with three quarters in the overweight or obese categories, and more than a third of this group in denial about their actual weight classification.

“It’s clear Australian dads in particular are not making the link between their weight and the chronic health problems they are likely to suffer, including Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Nor are they considering the impact on the health of their kids.

“When parents look after themselves it puts in place a crucial piece of the puzzle. For families with a long history of obesity, a young dad turning himself around can really help break the cycle for the whole family,” said Dr Bates.

The research also showed high numbers of Australians, but particularly those with children living at home, suffer tiredness, fatigue and headaches.

Bupa Health and Wellness Adviser, Guy Leech, said balancing work, family and social lives with regular exercise and a nutritious diet wasn’t always easy, but could be done.

“It’s easier to fit it all in when you’re just looking after yourself or a partner, but that doesn’t mean that families should let their health take a backseat.

“We want to be around to see our kids grow up, and a key part of that involves making a few changes at a time to help you lose weight, sleep better and reduce stress levels,” said Leech.

Leech recommends sitting down with your partner, and then the family, to talk about ways to improve your family’s health, and visiting a GP periodically for a health check.

“Dinner time is good family time to talk about food, nutrition and exercise, so try to eat dinner together at the table, rather than in front of the TV.

“Consider incorporating a family walk into your day after work and school, or agree to all take up a new sport or active hobby,” said Leech.

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Notes to the editor:
[1]About the research: This Bupa research was conducted by Quantum Market Research and included a survey of 1188 (526 male and 662 female) adults who were young singles, young couples, or in young or older families, across Australia.

2 Body Mass Index (BMI) is a statistical measure of body weight based on a respondent’s stated weight and height. Though it does not measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on height.

3 Boutelle, K., Cafri, G., Crow, S. Parent Predictors of Child Weight change in Family Based Behavioral Obesity Treatment. Obesity. Spring 2012. (accessed online 7 Jun 2012)

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About Bupa As a leading healthcare business in Australia, Bupa’s purpose is to help Australians live longer, healthier, happier lives. 

Bupa proudly provides health insurance to more than three million Australians (previously under the well known health insurance brands MBF, HBA, and Mutual Community), as well as complementary healthcare services through Bupa Health Dialog, Peak Health Management and Blink Optical. Bupa Care Services is an aged care provider with 47 facilities around Australia.

 Bupa focuses on providing sustainable healthcare solutions that represent real value, and on leading the industry in the promotion of preventive health and wellness – helping customers better manage their health for the long-term. Bupa’s Australian businesses are part of the international Bupa Group, which cares for more than 30 million people in over 190 countries.