Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

We’re still a nation of Norms:

35 years on from the original anti-obesity campaign, not much has changed.
By Motherpedia
Date: November 26 2013
Tags: health, exercise,
Editor Rating:

"I've just got big stomach bones," said Norm, the cartoon character to whom the Australian nation was introduced more than three decades ago to encourage us to live a more healthy lifestyle.

It was Norm's response to the advice that too much to eat, too much of the wrong food and not enough exercise led to overweight and obesity as he sat on the couch cradling his beer can on his stomach. 

In the way of all good stories, Norm had an epihany. Eventually, the beer-swilling couch potato climbed off his couch and declared ‘Life. Be In It.’

But fast forward to today, and the majority of adult Australians still do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

National activity guidelines recommend adult Australians undertake at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week over five or more separate sessions.

But the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that only 43% of adult Australians met these guidelines. A higher proportion of males (45%) met the guidelines compared with females (41%).

The ACT had the highest proportion of people meeting the guidelines (50%) and the NT the lowest (375).

People born in north-east Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the UK were the least likely to be sedentary, whilst those born in the southern and eastern Europe (28.5%), Middle East and North Africa (28%) and Australia (21.6%) were more likely to be sedentary. People classified as ‘sedentary’ spent, on average, more than 16 hours per week watching television.

ABS Director Andrew Middleton said that along with poor nutrition, sedentary behaviour and lack of physical activity are key factors associated with obesity and being overweight.

"One in five Australian adults exercise at very low levels, or not at all".

"The level of physical activity among adult Australians varied according to age, income, education level and socio-economic status. Australians living in higher income households were more likely to meet the national guidelines (52%) compared with those living in lower income households (34%)”, said Mr Middleton.

Young Australians aged 18-24 years (53%) were more likely to meet the national guidelines.

Overall, the most popular physical exercise for adult Australians was ‘Walking’ (24%) followed by ‘Fitness & Gym’ activities (17%). The most popular team sports were outdoor football (soccer) in 8th place, enjoyed by 2.7% of the adult population, and netball (indoor and outdoor) in 9th, enjoyed by 2.5% of the adult population. The other activities making up the top 10 were swimming, cycling and running (all 8%), golf (5%), tennis (4.2%) and bush walking (2.4%).

* * *

  • Do you exercise for at least 150 minutes a week – approximately 5 sessions of 30 minutes? 
  • If so, what do you do? 
  • If not, what do you need to help you do it?


Here's the original 'Life.Be in it.' advertisement with Norm & Libby.

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1 Total Comments
Liz says: 2013 11 26

The trouble with all this is that I do more than 150 minutes. I do at least 240 minutes of exercise a week, but mostly 300 minutes a week. I cannot do anymore with a job and kids. But I struggle to keep the weight down, as much as I work hard and eat a healthy diet. People look at me and see me as being overweight and I am, but it doesn’t mean I’m a ‘Norm’.

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