5 Reasons Why Maltese People Are Obese According To Them

Malta’s struggles with weight loss have long been known. But what is it that holds us back, according to the people themselves?

From a rising cost of living, an overabundance of less healthy but tasty foods, and even general laziness, hundreds of Maltese men and women have given us their take in a Lovin Malta survey on why Malta has become the fattest country in Europe.

1. Eating healthy is expensive

“Eating healthy has become too expensive. Soaring prices of fish, fruit, and vegetables have left me unable to keep up.”

Perhaps nothing decides the contents of our pantries more than the price. Soaring costs of living have driven many towards cheaper alternatives, even though it doesn’t bode well for our health.

The result? A status quo that’s resistant to change, even if prices will take a turn for the better.

Respondents who made an effort to eat healthily regularly, amid the burdens of expense, often remarked that they had to make an ‘effort’ to do so.

“Fresh produce is around us, and cheap too, [but] you need to know where to look.”

“You can find a whole variety of healthy alternatives. But they are not the most readily available. You have to search.”

Not everyone enjoys ‘hunting down’ just for the sake of health. This ‘obstacle’ has made many submit to unhealthy foods – sometimes in the form of sweets or crisps – cheap foods of no nutritional value.

The consequence of this is that we are “always left feeling hungry.” Nobody likes feeling hungry, and that is what leads to the second problem.

2. Frequent snacking

“I am always hungry.”

Grazing or feeding? Modern-day food abundance has led to multi-snacking. A problem that has our body’s metabolic machinery constantly working and often, falling behind the increasing demand anyway.

In light of this fact, many of us have been made to overconsume lots of empty calories.

And speaking of calories, efforts to cut down on calories in an attempt to lose weight birthed another problem: “healthy food doesn’t make me feel full.”

Having four to six meals (or snacks) in a day was a common behavior in youths and young adults. Interestingly, while the intention to eat three meals per day was there, plans often went awry after family, friends, and colleagues brought in unplanned snacks.

And the unfortunate truth? “There are just too many unhealthy options around and not so many healthy ones.”

3. Healthy food is either hard to prepare or doesn’t taste all that good

“The food that’s easy to prepare is unhealthy. I just don’t have time to cook.”

Life has become a constant race against time. And as we continue competing against the clock with increasing work demands, family duties, and out-of-hours endeavors, one could say that the last thing on someone’s mind would be to go home and prepare a healthy meal.

It was a problem seen in every age group, even in youths who despite having the intention to eat healthily, were unable to do so because the food they sought was “rarely available at home.”

Why stock up on foods that expire in days when you can stock up on preserved goods that last a lifetime?

Whilst several respondents remarked that they struggle to eat a single healthy meal, a large group – predominantly youths and young adults – couldn’t pinpoint the reason why, and simply answered with “I don’t know,” or the following:

“I sometimes struggle to prepare a healthy meal because I’m rarely in the mood to do so.”

Interestingly, even those who did enjoy eating healthily agreed that preparing healthy food takes far more time to prepare. And to ensure they ate healthily, they were forced to “take time out of an otherwise busy day, out of a love for cooking or eating clean.”

“I spend a couple of hours per week meal prepping for the week, like that we can just eat food that has been previously prepared, and the chances of us ordering out are lower, so we don’t waste.”

Of 459 respondents, 19% struggled to eat a single, healthy meal while 35% sometimes found it hard.

4. Lots of take-aways and eating out

With food prep being an issue, many have come out and said that takeaways, now made easily accessible by way of mobile apps, have been a game-changer in their diets, as far as ease goes. However, the choices aren’t always the best for health.

“After working long hours, [take-out food] becomes the obvious choice. I am addicted [to eating out].”

Aside from the lack of difficulties that comes with preparing food in the kitchen, dining out comes with two much-desired perks that are only too attractive.

The first was the social advantage that comes with dining with loved ones. “I eat out because I have a good social life. I love hanging out with friends at a restaurant.”

The second was “the lack of mess” or “lack of needing to wash dishes and clean up after cooking food at home.”

A handful of respondents stuck with a once-per-week (or even less) eat-out policy. And what did they have in common? Either a profound love for cooking or an understanding that home-cooked meals were less likely to impact your health negatively.

“I hardly ever get takeaways or eat out mostly because I love cooking and I like to know what I am eating. We eat out a maximum of once a month, often less than that.”

5. No will to exercise

The Maltese never really were fans of moving around, with as many as 72% of the population classed as sedentary. That means almost three out of four people on the island do not walk for at least thirty minutes per day, five days per week.

“This is the Maltese mentality.”

Respondents of the Lovin Malta survey did not diverge much from this statistic, with as many as 28% stating that they “never exercise”.

Of those who did exercise regularly, 28% said that they exercise once or twice per week, 23% said that they exercise three to four times per week and 12% said that they exercise five to six times per week.

On the opposite end, 8% of the respondents said that they exercise every single day, whilst 1% said that they work out even more than that.

Time and motivation were key players here, but the fact that gym memberships were also regarded as an additional expense was often remarked on.

“It would be great if gym memberships and aerobic classes were offered at reduced fees, and if practical information on losing weight was more readily available.”

Where do we go from here?

57% of the 456 respondents said that they are obviously overweight. Be it by weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), or by having a large gut.

However, 80% of 453 respondents said that they are ready to lose weight.

That leaves one question: where do we go from here?

What do you think needs to be done in order to reduce Malta’s overwhelming rates of obesity?

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