Something needs to be done about the state of our health, and millennials have the means, the workforce and the willpower to do it.
Research shows we’re getting fatter and therefore more at risk of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In 2014-2015, 63.4 per cent of Australians were overweight or obese, an increase of 7.1 per cent over just a decade. What we eat is a key cause.
In the Pacific, this problem is felt dramatically, but the problem is making waves around the world. Under- and over-nutrition is rife, with one in two children in Timor and Papua New Guinea, and one in three in Indonesia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu permanently stunted from lack of good nutrition. The Pacific Islands are also home to nine out of the 10 most overweight and obese countries in the world.
The causes come down to lack of access to food and limited availability, poor climate for agriculture, lack of education and deep-rooted cultural traditions.
Even in Australia, these affect us: imagine declining a piece of cake on your birthday, or turning down Mum’s Christmas roast? Tradition and habit are a driving force in everyday life, and when combined with other causes can have dire health consequences
We already have the ideas and the technology to make non-communicable diseases a thing of the past. At crowdsourced, crowdfunded global social movement NCDFREE, we’re using social media to connect millennials around the world. Our #FEASTOFIDEAS campaign crowdsourced more than 500 global health solutions through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using hashtags and tags.
Apps like YUME, a mobile marketplace for food surpluses, have also been developed to solve the problem of wastage. The app connects suppliers like producers or wholesalers, with buyers like cafes or caterers to share food that might have otherwise gone to waste.
Separate to apps, social campaigns like LAUNCH Food, facilitated by InnovationXchange, call upon innovators to tackle the global food challenge, with the Pacific as ground zero, by asking thinkers, technologists, anyone with an idea, to submit their thoughts to solve a problem that will affect us all.
Juliette Wittich is a youth ambassador with NCDFREE an organisation working to eradicate non-communicable diseases globally.
This article was originally posted with the Australian Financial Review.