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3 Sep 2014

Two-thirds (66%) of Australia’s Over 50s say there is too much conflicting health information about diet and lifestyle, according to new research by Apia, the leading national insurer for over 50s.

Apia’s research found that roughly one in five (21%) older Australians are confused about what they should be eating to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.  

David Skapinker, Apia spokesperson, said that while living in the 24-hour news age with information available at our fingertips has undoubtedly improved the quality of life of many, the flipside is the necessity for people to be more selective in the information they use to help lead a healthy and full life.

“The media is a major source of information on health and nutrition and every other day there seems to be a new report about the latest diet for optimal health and superfoods for disease prevention, so it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of confusion regarding diet. Over 50s end up not knowing what to eat or what to avoid for their life stage, and it’s increasingly becoming a problem for many,” he commented.  

Dr Ross Walker, one of Australia’s best-known and most respected health experts, says: “To maintain good health as we age, the key is to eat less, and as natural as possible.”

“While there are many diets promoted through the media that promise weight loss, optimal health and vitality, the best thing you can do to maintain a healthy body weight is simply balance the amount of calories consumed through food and drink with the amount of energy your body uses,” he said.

“A problem for many of us is that we often eat more food than we need to, and don’t move enough. This is a major health issue for Australians over 50 because as we grow older, our metabolism begins to slow down, making it easier to gain weight.”

Dr Walker suggests some simple ways to help ensure you’re eating a healthy diet: “Try eating off smaller plates to reduce the size of your meals, take it easy on dessert and remember that grazing is an easy way to lose track of the calories you’re taking in. Most importantly, whole foods and anything fresh will always be better for your weight and cardiovascular health.”

Dr Walker added: “There’s a lot of evidence that shows that the Mediterranean lifestyle is one of the healthiest ways of life. It boasts a diet rich in natural fats, carbohydrates and red wine, with the biggest meal consumed at lunchtime, followed by a sleep and then hours of manual labour in the afternoon to burn up energy. This is starkly different from our modern way of life where we consume most of our food in the evening and then sit around watching television, when we should be enjoying a sizeable breakfast and lunch, and having our smallest meal at the end of the day.”

“It’s important to remember that our body is not like a car, where we inject it with fuel and it gets burned off. In fact, what happens is quite the opposite; if we don’t get rid of fuel straight away it gets laid down as fat.”

“For people over 50 a healthy diet not only prevents the likelihood of obesity, heart disease and many other chronic diseases, it provides more energy to do the things they love doing, such as travelling and playing with the grandkids, so they continue to live at their best,” he continued.  

 Dr Walker recommends that the best diet to reduce the risk of age related diseases and stay healthy after 50 includes:

  • Eating 2-3 pieces of fresh fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables every day. Anyone eating those amounts will have the lowest risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Maximise your intake of fresh whole-foods, as that is the healthiest diet, while incorporating small portions of meat, nuts, olive oil, fish and eggs.
  • Minimise your intake of processed and white foods including pasta; bread, rice and potatoes.
  • Be conscious of your intake of sugary drinks and fruit juice as these are often loaded with sugar and count towards your daily calorie intake.
  • Combine a nutritious well balanced diet with regular exercise, and most importantly the best drug in the world, happiness!
  • Your first point of call for advice on diet should be your doctor as everyone’s health is individual so it’s important to get tailored advice. Having the right diet in place can also make a huge difference in the management and treatment of many ailments and diseases.
  • As we get older it’s vital to have regular preventative checks and stay on top of our health.

Notes to editors:

This release provides general health advice. For any specific health concerns contact your doctor.

About the research

Apia’s research is based on an independent internet survey conducted by Newspoll of 2,082 Australians aged 50 years and over in 2014. Data was collected in line with ISO 20252 – Market, Social and Opinion Research and has been weighted with current ABS population demographics to ensure any extrapolation of results is representative of age and gender on a regional, state and national basis.

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Angela Wilkinson
Corporate Affairs, Apia

T: 03 8681 9583/ M: 0477 395 119 E: media@apia.com.au

 

Apia is a specialist insurance provider for people aged over 50. Providing a wide range of home and contents, car, caravan, motor home, boat and life insurance solutions tailored to the over 50s life stage, Apia has a network of branches across Australia serving almost 750,000 policy holders. Apia recently launched Private Health Insurance, offering a range of Health Insurance Hospital and Extras covers specifically tailored to meet the varying and individual needs of Australians aged over 50. For more information on Apia visit www.apia.com.au