If you’re an Australian that’s not overweight or obese, you’re in the minority.
As a nation, two-thirds of us fall into either of those categories, but it’s not just costing our waistlines; it’s making a dent in our wallets, too.
According to new research from life insurance provider NobleOak, a third (32 per cent) of Australians are spending their weekly food budget on junk, preferencing meals that are easy to purchase and quick to cook.
Related story: Aussie mums reveal their 10 best budgeting and saving tips
Related story: Woolworths’ plan to make beer out of unwanted food
Related story: This is why your grocery bill is set to sky-rocket
Young people tend to spend more of their money on junk food, while men will spend more than women do.
But not all Aussies across the country love fast food equally: Tasmania actually has the most fast food joints per 100,000 people among all the states and territories of Australia.
Accredited dietician Rachel Scoular said that the main reason why fast food had become so popular among Aussies was convenience.
“Third-party ordering apps such as Menulog, Deliveroo and Uber Eats make it easier than ever to buy fast food within minutes,” she said.
Only a few years ago, fast food or takeaway meant Chinese food or pizza on the weekend.
“However, with the arrival of such apps we are now spoilt for choice with fast food options and accessibility, so we’re now seeing higher consumption rates throughout the week and not just on weekends.”
Young people in particular are more inclined to buy junk food, with 85 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 admitting to eating junk like chips, pizza, fried chicken or kebabs at least once a week.
Scoular said there was a wide gap growing between younger and older Australians in this regard: longer working hours and longer commutes means less time for personal tasks suchMake your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news. as cooking.
“There’s also the influence and pressure of keeping up with the Joneses, driven mainly by social media. These social networking sites are often filled with images of food and restaurants,” she said.
“There’s greater temptation to act on these impulses and purchase fast food now than in previous years.”
At the same time, awareness of health and nutrition is low among Australians.
More than half (55 per cent) of Aussies said they don’t even eat one portion of fruit or veggies a day – a statistic that Scoular labelled as “alarming”.
"I think there’s a great opportunity for intervention and nutrition education here. Small changes and simple swaps to alter your intake to include for fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and low-fat products are all great steps that are quite easily achieved.”
Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.