It’s a fact – Australians are getting heavier. In 2014-15, the National Health Survey showed that 63.4% of adults were either overweight or obese, as measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI). Lack of exercise is part of the problem but so is excessive eating – and eating too much means we’re spending too much. You could improve your net worth (and reduce your net girth) just by changing your eating habits.

We can’t do much about the price of petrol, the direction of the share market or the rate of inflation, but we can control how we spend our money. A quick check in the bathroom mirror after a shower could show where a lot of spending goes!

It’s not just the quantity – but also the content of the food we eat. Did you know that the most fattening food is the humble potato, as chips? Or that a 600ml bottle of soft drink has more than 16 teaspoons of sugar in it?

From a personal finance perspective, if we’re eating too much, then we’re spending too much. Australians allocate 17% of our household spending to food; the second highest expense after housing costs. If we could be less wasteful and more selective, we can increase our savings. These extra dollars could be used to reduce debt, invest or enjoy life. For instance, it’s cheaper to make your own lunch than buy it, particularly as prepared food costs an extra 10% in GST whereas fresh food is GST-free.

The costs of eating too much goes beyond the grocery bill. Being overweight has many other flow-on costs.

  • There is a greater risk of health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and back problems.
  • Clothing needs to be regularly replaced with larger sizes.
  • Higher premiums are charged for disability and life insurance.
  • More money is spent on dietary supplements (often ineffective) or exercise equipment and gym membership (often under-used).

Social eating and drinking are part of our society and lifestyle – they provide one of life’s real pleasures. But does this mean eating more (and spending more) than is necessary or healthy?

Money and food have a lot in common. When discussing either topic we talk about “consumers” – and over-consumption isn’t healthy on either front. Sadly, we often think of budgets and diets in the same way – boring and easy to avoid – but changing your eating habits can make a big difference to your bottom … line!