Worldwide anti-obesity strategies focus on the bottom line

Using data from the World Health Organisation (WHO)i, a 2014 study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis, focuses on the financial cost of obesityii. The report states that in 2014, almost 30 per cent (2.1 billion people) of the global population of 7 billion was either obese or overweight, which is nearly two-and-a-half times the 840 million who are undernourishediii. The worldwide economic costs of obesity have risen to US$2 trillion annually, which is the same monetary impact as armed conflict, and slightly less than the costs incurred by smokingiv. This is about 2.8 per cent of economic activity worldwide, which adds up to between 2 to 7 per cent of the health care budget in developed countriesiv. Meanwhile, only 0.25 per cent of the total cost of obesity globally is used for prevention strategies, while the rest is used for dealing with the consequencesii.

The financial burden of obesity is the focus of new research.

The MGI report’s estimate of the global economic toll from obesity includes lost productivity (nearly 70 per cent of the total cost of obesity), health care usage, and the investment needed to combat obesityiii. These sums were calculated on estimates of the current costs of obesity: when the problem increases as obese people get older (and there are more of them), the report projects there will be higher future costsiii. Obesity and overweight rates in North Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East are at the same level as Europe, with the rate of obesity also rising in South Asia and East Asiaiii.

Australia’s getting bigger

Australia’s obesity rates are increasing faster than the rest of the world and a quarter of our children are overweightv. We are among the highest ranking of the developed nations for having a wide prevalence of obesityvi: the Australian Heart Foundation says more than a third of Australian adults are overweightvii. Compared to non-indigenous people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 1.7 times more likely to be obese and men 1.4 times more likelyviii.

A 2014 report, Obesity: Prevalence Trends in Australia, prepared for the Federal Government’s Australian National Preventive Health Agency, said that, based on health service usage and health-related expenditure by individuals, the economic cost of overweight adults in 2005 was about AUD$21 billion in both direct healthcare and non-healthcare costs, plus $35.6 billion in government subsidies, which includes payments for those on the aged pension, disability pension, veteran pension, mobility allowance, sickness allowance and unemployment benefitviii.

The report said analysis by KPMG estimated the direct and indirect costs of obesity in 2008-09 was $37.7 billion (3.1 per cent of GDP)viii. The direct financial cost was $7.7 billion, of which $1.3 billion was spent on obesity-related conditionsviiiM and $6.4 billion (0.5 per cent of GDP) was due to productivity lossesviii. The remaining $30 billion was spent on “burden of disease” (i.e. financial and social) costsix.

 Introducing your children to healthy nutritious food is one way to fight obesity.

National research showed the biggest risk factors for gaining weight are stress (especially financial worries), lack of access to green space and healthy food, lack of access to obesity-related health services, and poor sleepviii.


The McKinsey Global Institute warns that we cannot wait for conclusive data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention strategies, such as taxing sugar-filled drinks, as there needs to be an “aggressive all-hands-on-deck approach” because the cost of failing is too highii. They suggest successful small-scale experiments should be quickly scaled up to improve public healthiii.

The MGI report advised that a major shift needs to occur in the way the food business sector advertises its productsiii. The report says it is important that new research be conducted, as losing weight is not easy, particularly for people living in obesogenic environments that encourage unhealthy eating choices and minimise the opportunities for exercisex .

The MGI report said that if we do not find solutions, almost half the adult world will be overweight or obese by 2030xi.


iWorld Health Organisation 2015, Obesity and overweight, viewed 19 February 2015,

iiAn, M., Wolf, A. 2014, ‘McKinsey global institute releases economic analysis on overcoming obesity’, DiaTribe, 17 December, viewed 18 February 2015,

iiiMcKinsey Global Institute 2014, Overcoming obesity: an initial economic analysis, viewed 30 March 2015,

ivDobbs, R., Sawers, C. 2014, ‘Obesity: A global economic issue’, VOX CEPR’s Policy Portal, 13 December, viewed 19 February 2015,

v‘Australian obesity rates climbing faster than anywhere else in the world, study shows’, ABC News, 29 May, viewed 30 March 2013,

viModi, Obesity in Australia, Monash University, viewed 10 April 2015,

viiHeart Foundation, Factsheet: Overweight and obesity statistics, viewed 10 April 2015,

viiiThe Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney 2014, Obesity: Prevalence and trends in Australia, viewed 30 March 2015, 

ixMedibank Health Solutions 2010, Obesity in Australia: financial impacts and cost benefits of intervention, viewed 10 April 2015,

xMagazine Monitor 2014, ‘What is an obesogenic environment?’, BBC News, 28 May, viewed 26 March 2015,

xiDobbs, R., Sawers C., Thompson, F., Manyika, J., Woetzel, J., Child, P., McKenna S., Spatharou, A. 2014, ‘How the world could better fight obesity’, McKinsey & Company, viewed 17 February 2015,


Millennials in the workforce

Link to original Allianz article

Born between 1980 and the early 2000sii, the eldest Millennials are in the workplace now and by 2025 will make up 75 per cent of the global workforceiii. If you are in the workforce now, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be working alongside them. They could be your customer and may even be your competitor: 70 per cent have, or want to have, their own businessiv.

Millennials are well educated and see themselves as tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible and innovative.

Spoilt, lazy, impatient or …?

Unfortunately, as a generation, Millennials have not been given a great résumé. The popular perception – not necessarily supported by substantial evidence – is that they’re impatient, overly self-confident, self-absorbed, self-important, lazy, easily bored, spoilt, constantly need positive affirmation, and are disloyalxvii,i.

That is in stark contrast to how they see themselves and the opportunities they present to employers. When they look in the mirror, Millennials see a tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible, innovativev generation. They are true to themselvesi.

They are also the most-educated generationvi. In 2011, 52 per cent of young adults (18 to 34 years) had a non-school qualification and 26 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualificationvii. Go back 35 years to 1976 and only 30 per cent in the same age group had a non-school qualification and just 5 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualificationvii.

Recent events, globalisation and … happiness!

Even when factoring in the bust and global recession which began in 2008, Millennials have lived in relative prosperity. One report claimed some commentators felt Millennials “need a good recession” to realise how good they have itxvii.

With experience of the world that goes back only 30 years, it’s the recent big trends and events that have helped shaped them. Viacom’s 2012 research on 15,000 young people (aged 9 to 30) from 24 countries – including Australia – point to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the launch of Facebook and Barack Obama’s election as key events in the lives of Millennials worldwidei. The report noted the Black Saturday bushfires, Global Financial Crisis and Queensland floods weighed heavily on Australian Millennialsi.

Climate change is the top problem facing society in the next 20 yearsviii according to 300 Millennials interviewed in Australia for the Deloitte Millennial Innovation Survey 2013viii.

Despite the threat of terrorism, natural disasters, economic catastrophes and climate change, 84 per cent of Australian Millennial respondents to the Viacom survey were happy (global average: 87 per cent). Nevertheless, 35 per cent were stressed (global average: 33 per cent)i.

Opinions on business

The Mind the Gaps 2015 Deloitte Millennial surveyix, which interviewed 7800 Millennials from 29 countries including Australia, showed Millennial respondents thought businesses needed to pay equal attention to people as they do to products and profitMx. Seventy-five per cent thought businesses were too fixated on their own agendas and should be more focused on improving societyx.
The Deloitte 2013 Millennial Innovation Surveyxi of 4800 people in 16 “markets” (covering at least 18 countries), provided more information on Australians. 70 per cent of Australian respondents thought employee satisfaction was very important (just less than financial performance)xii. While research indicates the top priority for Australian respondents is that businesses should produce goods and services (29 per centxiii), only 58 per cent thought their company helped society in some wayxiv or that they worked for an innovative companyxv.

Millennials are likely to have been influenced by new technology, economics, and socialisation by very hands-on involved parentsxvii who valued their children’s opinions on matters such as cars and family holidays. This has led to Millennials having high expectations: they want well-paid and meaningful work and, according to popular literature, to become famousxvii. At the same time they (similar to older generations) place parenthood and marriage far ahead of work and financial successxvi.

Working with Millennials

Each generation has unique features. Empirical studies support the stereotypes that Boomers are ambitious workaholics who may be critical of co-workers who do not work as hard, while Generation X are sceptics who like to work autonomously and dislike meetingsxvii.

Empirical studies indicate that, like Boomers, Millennials thrive on recognition and promotionsxvii. They often have a broader perspective about supervisor-subordinate relationships, and want close relationships and frequent feedback from their bossxvii. The ideal boss – according to a 2013 Hays survey of 1000 Australians aged 18 to 30 – is mostly a mentor (50 per cent), leader (40 per cent, confidant (30 per cent) and friend (23 per cent)xviii. The four qualities they wanted in a boss were: support (43 per cent), expertise (42 per cent), motivation (39 per cent) and fairness (38 per cent)xix.

Millennials expect to become involved in projects that have a major impact on the organisation soon after they’ve joined. This includes matters normally reserved for more senior employeesxvii. Giving Millennials more responsibility regarding broader company issues, so they feel involved, can avoid them becoming bored, which, according to popular literature, is the main reason for leavingxvii.

While Millennials are adept at team work, this can come at the expense of individual excellence, fast decision-making and productivityxvii.

Millennials are optimistic and familiar with technologyxx. They may be well placed to provide opinions on how to improve operations and marketing through technologyxvii. Like Generation X workers, they feel rewarded by work arrangements that offer more flexibility and new technologyxvii,xxi.

iViacom International Media Networks. 2012, ‘The next normal: an unprecedented look at Millennials worldwide’, viewed 13 April 2015,

iiRouse, M. 2015, Tech Target , “Millennials (millennial generation)” viewed 13 March 2015

iiDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2014, ‘Big demands and high expectations: Deloitte Millennial survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 2

ivHays Australia. 2013, Hays Gen Y and the world of work, viewed 9 April 2015,, p.14

vViacom International Media Networks. 2012, ‘The next normal: an unprecedented look at Millennials worldwide’, viewed 13 April 2015,, p.6

viShuey, J. 2014, Business 2 Community “The digital generation: Millennials and social networking” viewed 16 March 2015

viiAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, Young adults: Then and Now, viewed 10 April 2015,

viiiDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 6

ixDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2015, ‘Mind the Gaps: the 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,

xDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2015, ‘Mind the Gaps: the 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 2

xiDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,

xiiDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 10

xiiiDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 9

xivDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 4

xvDeloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’, viewed 1 April 2015,, p. 11

xviPew Research Center, Taylor, P. and Keeter, S. Eds. (February 2010) Millennials—A portrait of generation next pp. 140, viewed 1 April 2015,

xviiMyers, K. & Sadaghiani, K. 2010, ‘Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on Millennials’ organizationals relationships and performance’, Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 25, no. 2, pages 225–238, viewed 13 April 2015,

xviiiHays Australia. 2013, Hays Gen Y and the world of work, viewed 9 April 2015,, p.10

xixHays Australia. 2013, Hays Gen Y and the world of work, viewed 9 April 2015,, p.11

xxThorne, P. 2011, ‘Wired and worldly: Engaging Gen Y learners’, Training and Development in Australia, Vol. 38, No. 6, page 16, viewed 1 April 2015,;dn=247696329140263;res=IELAPA

xxiKlein, K. 2014, “How to keep millennials from getting bored and quitting“, Bloomberg Business, viewed 16 March 2015,

Cute and cuddly: our favourite pets on social media

Link to original post on Allianz site

Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with around 63 per cent of households having a pet. Source ii.

It’s virtually impossible to go a day without seeing photos or videos of fluffy animals doing cute things on our social media feeds. Pets have been winning the Internet’s heart for years and sometimes making their owners quite a bit of money in the forms of corporate sponsorships, product placements and book deals – think Grumpy Cat and Boo. Cats are the undisputed champion of Internet cuteness and an exhibition entitled How cats took over the Internet in NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image aims to analyse the importance of cat related content on the Internet .

A quick search on Instagram returns plenty of accounts dedicated to our pets here in Australia. Take a look at some of the cutest Australian pets below:

@abbeys_guineapigs: It’s hard to resist the overwhelming urge to say “Awww” when you stumble upon these two guinea pigs enjoying a snack. The account has just over 500 followers and chronicles the lives of six guinea pigs and their canine companions Ben and Pippa.

@homerpugalicious: Homer enjoys playing dress up and has a passion for food. When he’s not posing for the camera, Homer helps his mum with their blog and works to raise money for animals in need. Check him out on Instagram where he has 58.6 thousand followers.

@hannahhuntcorgi: Hannah the Corgi lives in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Her account has just over 4000 followers and follows her adventures around town with her people and she organises catch ups with her corgi pals with the tag #sydneycorgimeet.

@adventuresoflittleben: Ben, the black Lab, belongs to Sydney fashion blogger, Sara Donaldson. He’s only been on Instagram since early 2015 but has already built up a following of over 2000 people. The account follows the escapades of Ben and his pal, fellow black lab, Bundy.

@Jacknluna: Jack and Luna are brother and sister who have found international fame on Instagram. It all started when their human wanted a way to share their daily lives without crowding her friend’s Instagram feeds with cat photos. These two are quite unique and were able to gain their stardom with the #nakedcats tag (referring to cats with little or no hair) and when @cats_of_instagram shared one of Jack and Luna’s photos to their (at that time) 1.8 million followers.

@milkteabuns: Yuki and her friend Kookie also have their own blog and YouTube channel and have 20,000 followers just on Instagram. These bunnies dedicate their time to providing the human parents of other bunnies with tips and information on how to keep their bunnies happy and healthy.

@charliemadchops: Charlie is a long-haired Persian and perhaps one of Sydney’s best groomed felines. His account has 3400 followers and over 100 photos, many of which document his meticulous grooming regime, helped along by his people who seem to like to put him in the bath.

@kittykitty_bambam: Bam Bam is a Spotted Australian Mist and spends his days lounging and living a very laidback life in Melbourne. He only has a small following but his antics captured by his owners are very entertaining.

And finally, we have the quokka. While not a pet, quokkas still deserve a mention. These Rottnest Island natives have amassed quite the following on Instagram (the tag #quokka as over 30,000 posts) and other user content generated sites, like Buzzfeed.

Pets in Australia

Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with around 63 per cent of households having a pet . In 2013, it was estimated that there were at least 25 million pets in Australia: that means roughly 19 dogs and 15 cats per every 100 people plus around 10.7 million pet fish, 4.8 million pet birds and another 2.2 million pet reptiles and other small mammalsii.

Pets are really just part of the family…smile!

Pets are increasingly becoming an important part of our families. Owners are opting for more expensive food, toys and even gifts for special occasions; pet owners are also spending big on professional photographs of their animal companions . For some of us, our pets are more important than the human members of our family. A poll in Britain earlier in the year found that 22 per cent of respondents felt that their pet was more important than their in-laws . Those sentiments are echoed here, with some pet owners looking to their pets to provide a sense of friendship and stave off feelings of loneliness.

Our pets are often so important to us that we consider their wellbeing before our own. The Victorian Government recently announced it will fund shelter for pets of domestic violence victims as part of its “Safe Steps” family violence program. This initiative was introduced because victims had sometimes not sought help due to violent threats being made against pets, and refuges would not accept pets. Over the next four years, $100,000 will be spent working with animal welfare agencies, such as the RSPCA, to provide for the pets .

Sometimes, pets even become a matter of national security. The “war of terrier” was a tale fit for the silver screen between Johnny Depp’s Yorkshire terriers, Boo Radley and Pistol, and the Department of Agriculture and made international headlines . The issue arose when Depp’s dogs arrived on a private jet and avoided quarantine. They were ultimately sent back to the US.

iBrown, K. 2015, ‘New York museum opens exhibition devoted to internet’, The Telegraph, viewed 24 July 2015,

iiAustralian Veterinary Association 2013, Pet ownership in Australia, viewed 24 July 2015,

iiiCarmody, B. 2013, ‘Pampered pets fuel Christmas business opportunities, but the message is not all upbeat’, viewed 24 July 2015,

ivBingham, J. 2015, ‘Man’s best friend? Dog’s more valued family members than mothers-in-law’, viewed 24 July, 2015,

vPower, J. 2013, ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’,, viewed 24 July, 2015,

viPremier of Victoria 2015, Family violence pet support boost, Media releases, viewed 16 July 2015,

viiFrizell, S. 2015, Johnny Depp could face 10 years in prison for bringing his dogs to Australia, viewed 24 July 2015,

10 life lessons from The Voice Australia

Link to original Allianz article

When not imitating Emoji faces and passing out in the heat, the 5 coaches of The Voice Australia dispensed gems of wisdom. Here’s what we learnt.

This year's The Voice judges from left to right - the Madden brothers, Delta Goodrem, Jessie J and Ricky Martin.

1. “Let’s fly really high and show not only Australia but the whole world what Australian talent really is.” – Ricky Martin

LIFE LESSON: Aim big, ’cause you will struggle to get to where you want to be if you don’t go for gold and give it everything you’ve got.

2. “You’re a very kind woman, but I want blood on that stage.” – Ricky Martin

LIFE LESSON: Sometimes you need to break some eggs to make an omelette. You’re not always going to please everyone in life, and not everyone is going to like you. But that’s OK.

3. “I need all the fans I can get. I finally got my number one fan.” – Joel Madden

LIFE LESSON: Don’t desert those who have supported you from the start.

Though he was making a pun on Delta’s Goodrem’s fan she’d thrown on the floor after using it for relief from the hot studio lighting, this shows that despite how successful you are, you still shouldn’t forget about people who were there for you from the beginning.

4. “You have a voice that people will want to hear every week. I think what you need is somebody who can protect that beautiful gift you’ve been given and make sure your soul shines every time you sing again, and that would be my job.” – Delta Goodrem

LIFE LESSON: When you have talent, find someone you can trust to help push to towards greatness. A mentor can help you figure out your next step and inspire you to continue to work hard and reach new milestones.

5. “Yesterday I would have turned in a heartbeat, but that’s the thing about this show – it’s timing. It can be the way… how the stars align.” – Delta Goodrem

LIFE LESSON: Sometimes all the planning in the world doesn’t help, you also need good luck and timing.

6. “You know the best thing about ex-boyfriends? They make number 1 hits for you!” – Delta Goodrem

LIFE LESSON: Every cloud has a silver lining: you can learn how to make big profits from your mistakes, particularly the ones you want to forget.

7. “You weren’t breathing hardly at all, which is why you struggled with the high notes and pitch. But honestly I’m genuinely excited about what you’re gonna become.” – Jessie J

LIFE LESSON: Don’t forget to breathe: oxygen is life-sustaining. Sometimes the most obvious thing to do is staring you right in the face, and this can be the most difficult decision to make.

8. “You live your life with your wounds open.” – Jessie J

LIFE LESSON: The struggles we go through in life make us better people if we choose to learn from them. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

9. (Jessie said to Delta regarding Which Spirit Animal Are You?) “You’re a squirrel and I’m an eagle.”

LIFE LESSON: Keep people around you who will lift you up, not drag you down.

10. “I’m the kind of person who will finish my dinner and wait to see if I get food poisoning before I say thank you.” – Jessie J

LIFE LESSON: Always wait for the result before you comment on the methods. Don’t judge a meal by its Instagram photo.

Sydney Mardi Gras 2018

It was the 40th Anniversary and so amazing. The numerous dance venues created a mini city and it was as buzzy and packed as the peak 1990s era.

Was privileged to be sitting next to a 78er, Peter McEwan from Melbourne, while waiting for Cher’s performance. He’d visited Sydney in 1978 for a national homosexual conference at Paddington Town Hall, and was involved in the protests. “The agenda back then used to include fighting in solidarity for everyone — access to abortion, refugees, women’s rights. I wish that solidarity was still around today. Other issues are important too.” He prefers the term “Queer” to “Gay”, as it’s more gender fluid.

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Eurovision 2017 slumber party!


Went to a Eurovision slumber party with scavenger hunt and bingo at Louise’s place. Started on Saturday night, watching the second semi-final, while Louise cooked delicious Ukrainian dishes – borscht soup and Chicken Kiev – to honour this year’s host nation.

It was lucky for us ABBA fans that Ukraine’s flag has the same colours as Sweden, so there were plenty of blue and yellow streamers strung around!

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Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence visit Taronga Zoo

Went with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on their 24th annual Taronga Park Zoo sistersvisitation. We’re told to wear sensible shoes, a hat, and that the event will go ahead in all weathers. The first highlight is the amazing ferry trip across Sydney Harbour, with a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the visiting Queen Mary cruise ship.

Mostly international Mardi Gras visitors attend this excursion so they can appreciate our local fauna, and the Sisters, led by Mother Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, provide a hilarious commentary of poems dedicated to each animal and – to the shock of attendees – early colonial recipes for eating them! Kangaroo tail is to be made like oxtail soup, and black swans should be cooked in a moderate oven for two hours. There were also tips on how to make a delicious Galah Pie and Roast Wombat!

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