Thought You Were Going to Live to 100? Maybe Think Again…

As a little kid I always had this idea that by the time I was an adult they would have invented something to keep our generation alive for thousands of years. Even now as a young adult I still naively believed that with all the advances in technology that our life expectancy could only be increasing. Recently this illusion of mine was shattered when I heard on the radio that some academics believe there’s a chance our generation might in fact be the first one to live a shorter life then the generation before us. Like me, you might also be thinking “wait…how could this be true? We have so much more medical knowledge now; we’ve come so far….”

It’s true that the medical advances have skyrocketed in the 21st centuries and every day there’s professionals working hard to find cures for illnesses. Studies have proven that the trend in life expectancy for humans during the past thousand years has had a slow but steady increase.
However, along with all the great advances of the modern world we’ve also created a much lazier society. In particular the introduction of online home delivery services such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Foodora has allowed people today to become even lazier than before. When laziness filters into your eating patterns, well that’s when professionals think you’re in for a bit of trouble.

For any readers who aren’t aware of such services these are basically apps for your smartphone that allow you to order food from local restaurants (who have partnered up with the services) and have meals from their menu delivered straight to your door, usually within a 20 minute time frame and usually by a young dude on a bicycle.

I’d be kidding myself (and probably you) if I didn’t admit that I am a sucker for a good food delivery to my home. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at Uni or work and not having to worry about stopping at Woolies to pick up groceries or slave away in the kitchen cooking. You can just whip out your beloved phone, click a couple of buttons and next minute – dinners at your door! Whilst being incredibly convenient, unfortunately these food options aren’t usually the healthiest. Often the choices range from pizza to burgers to a sugar filled Thai curry. Delicious, of course! Healthy? Not so much.

You might be feeling a bit lost right now, what does getting food delivered have to do with living a shorter life?

Well, an article published in the New England Journal about the potential decline in life expectancy states that “an informed approach to forecasting life expectancy should rely on trend in health and mortality that may be observed in the current population”. The article then goes on to explain how there has been a significant rise in obesity among adults in recent years. To back that up I had a look at The Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare 2014/25 study which showed that 28% of Australian adults were overweight, that’s a whopping 19% increase since 1995 and with the introduction of easy, delivered to your home, unhealthy meals this statistic is only increasing. Unhealthy eating options are one of the leading causes of obesity and like I said previously, these home delivery meal options unfortunately aren’t usually as healthy as whipping up a meal with a few ingredients you bought from Woolies yourself.

As these apps are relatively new in the Australian market I found it hard to find statistics on the demographics of users so far. However I did find that a recent study by YouGov showed that almost half of all Australian’s had ordered food online and were likely to order it again. The UK app Deliveroo that arrived in Aus in the beginning of last year said it was growing by 30% per week. A study done by the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that participants eating takeaway food at least twice a week were less likely to meet the dietary recommendation for vegetables, dairy, extra foods, breads and cereals. The overall conclusion of the study stated that, “eating takeaway food twice a week or more was associated with poorer diet quality and a higher prevalence of moderate abdominal obesity in young men and women”.

It’s this correlation with food delivery and obesity which draws the connection to a shorter life span. As takeaway apps become more popular as the months go on its likely, after looking at these studies, that obesity will continue to rise. Does this mean I’m going to stop using these apps all together? Probably not, like anything it’s surely okay in moderation, but I might reconsider my decision to have a burger and fries tonight…

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