ALBURY-Wodonga is facing an obesity epidemic and sufferers are unwilling to own up, a top Border medical specialist has said.
Pieter Mourik wants people to wake up to the reality that more parents than ever will outlive their children.
Dr Mourik blames the epidemic on overeating — usually on takeaway food or at fast-food restaurants — and a total lack of exercise.
“You have to say: OK, if you don’t mind dying when you’re 36, keep eating,” he said.
Dr Mourik wants to use his profile as the face for the latest White Pages telephone directory as a reminder to people that they must better look after themselves.
“This is not about me. It’s about the health of the community,” he said.
“It’s all about the huge number of people who give hours and hours of their time for teaching, not just doctors.
“It’s the nurses who do a huge amount of teaching, even my medical students, and allied health people in such areas as occupational therapy.”
Dr Mourik, just home after a trip to Japan, saw the directory for the first time yesterday.
He said the Border was not alone in facing the consequences of an epidemic that was sweeping the nation.
Dr Mourik said the hundreds of young people were dying and thousands more would die “but those affected do not seem to care”.
“And the community does not seem to be helping those affected, despite the huge cost of life, injury and economic cost,” he said.
“In Albury-Wodonga, we live in a healthy environment. There is no excuse that we have developed into an unfit, fat and unhealthy community.
“As a community, we need strategies to fight this epidemic, starting with education, understanding and motivation.”
Dr Mourik has retired but still works part-time in obstetrics. He also works his small Worragee farm.
Keeping busy all the time, with plenty of physical work, along with a balanced diet, kept him fit and healthy, he said.
Dr Mourik said it was no surprise why people became so obese.
“They seem to be eating the wrong type of food, including sweet drinks, all loaded with calories,” he said.
“They have huge buckets of popcorn at the pictures, huge meals at takeaways, food snacks between meals.
“Healthy food and smaller portions should be encouraged.”
Dr Mourik said there was no secret to how to reduce weight. Less than 1 per cent of obese people had a medical cause — the rest ate more calories than they burned.
“Eat less fattening food and exercise more,” he said.
“Albury-Wodonga has an opportunity to lead the fight against obesity, as long as there is support from everyone the community.”