Food options tempt miners while they are out at work
WEDGES topped with gravy, vegetables glistening with oil and bain maries filled with all types of food from salad to what some refer to as "chum" - this is the type of food that is served to miners living in camps.
Queensland Health statistics released last week tagged 75% of Mackay region residents as being overweight or obese - 12% higher than the Australian average.
The statistics also indicated that the Mackay to Townsville area had the worst obesity problem in the state.
However, dietician and exercise scientist Helen Scott, of Corporate Bodies International, a company that audits food quality at Bowen Basin mines, said the quality of food supplied to miners wasn't the problem.
"Camp dining rooms provide a buffet of food options, with healthy and less healthy options available," Miss Scott said.
"Over consumption and portion distortion are the primary issues that face many miners, especially when they are new to camp living."
"At Corporate Bodies International we have found the majority of the Bowen Basin camps have nutritional labelling systems in the camp dining rooms with labels such as 'eat most' and 'eat least'," she said.
"We recommend that miners try and base their meals on these 'eat most' foods and also try and limit the 'extra foods' such as desserts and cooked breakfasts to once per week."
Miss Scott said it wasn't just the food that was weighing miners down.
"Shift work compounds the obesity problem, impacting on motivation levels to do regular exercise when doing 12-hour shifts," she said.
"Our research has found that less than a quarter of miners assessed actually met the Australian recommendations for physical activity."
MINING operator Chris Benson, who is a 24-year-old working a five-on, two-off roster, believes it is entirely up to the individual to eat well and exercise while out at work.
"The variety of food isn't bad by any means; we get a good variation," Mr Benson said.
"There is plenty of vegies and salad and good sources of meat.
"It is entirely up to the individual but you can eat like the king if you want."
Mr Benson believes there is no excuse not to exercise.
"I do feel exhausted because of the long hours and I find it hard to go to the gym in the afternoons, but if you want it bad enough you will work toward it," he said.
"To be honest I think the stats are over-exaggerated, each mine worker has to do a medical test and a part of that is your health, you can't get out of it."
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