Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

22-Alex V.


My name is Alex and I am a junior in the Nutritional Science major. I am also a member of the Michigan State Dance Team and love being on the sidelines of football and basketball games. I chose this study abroad program for a few reasons. First, through the program, I get to complete an experiential learning experience for my major, which is required for graduation. I also chose to go to Australia because I didn’t know much about it and wanted to learn more about the eating habits of Australians. It is also such a beautiful country.

For my project, I will be observing the differences in portion sizes and food prices in Australia compared to the US in relation to health.


  1. Cox, Owen. “What Is a Serve?” Eat for Health. N.p., 27 July 2015. Web. 01 May 2017
  2. “Australian Dietary Guidelines: Standard Serves.” Nutriton Australia. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  3. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. “Australian Food and Drink.” Digital Transformation Agency, 01 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017


  1. Do most people finish their plates when they are out to eat?
  2. What are the most often ordered items on your menu?
  3. How do the prices at your restaurant compare to others of the same type?

The United States and Australia are both facing an obesity epidemic. In Australia, 63.4% of adults are considered obese or overweight and in the US 70.7% are considered obese or overweight (CDC, 2016). More facts on obesity in Australia can be found here: My main findings in Australia were that food was much more expensive overall and portion sizes were relatively the same or somewhat smaller.

This is a photo of the Cajun Grilled Fish served at the Cock & Bull in Cairns, Australia. It contains 2 pieces of grilled fish, french fries and a side salad.

This is a photo of the Cajun Grilled Fish served at the Cock & Bull in Cairns, Australia.

This is a photo of the Fish and Chips dish at an Applebee's in the United States, served with french fries, dipping sauce, and cole slaw.

This is a photo of the Fish and Chips dish at an Applebee’s in the United States.


The photos above provide a visual to compare the portion sizes served at similar restaurants in Australia and the United States. Both plates are similar in size and components. The differences in price are quite different, though. The Cajun Grilled Fish from the Cock & Bull in Cairns cost $22 AUD ($17.60 USD) and the Fish and Chips from Applebee’s cost $12.99 USD. The dish in Australia costs just over $5.00 USD more than a similar dish in Australia. This trend occurred across many other restaurant comparisons and grocery store comparisons.

Table 1: This table shows the differences between Australian food prices and American food prices along with differences in processed food container sizes, differences between processed and unprocessed foods and organic versus nonorganic produce.

Product Sour Cream & Onion Pringles Bananas Organic Bananas
Size in AUS 134g 1 kg 1 kg
Size in US 156g 1 kg (2.2 lbs) 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
Price in AUS $4.40 AUD ($3.52 USD) $3.00 AUD ($2.40 USD) $10.00 ($8.00 USD)
Price in US $1.50 USD $1.18 USD $1.51 USD
Calories per serving AUS: 25g- 129; US: 30g- 130 105 110

As the table above shows, a can of Pringles is about $2.00 USD more expensive in Australia for a smaller container than it is in the US. Also, this table demonstrates that healthier foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods. An entire container of Pringles contains 645 calories. In order to eat 645 calories in bananas, one would have to eat 6 bananas that would cost $3.54 USD, which is about $2.00 USD more than a container of Pringles. For underprivileged populations in both countries, these processed and less healthful foods are a good option to provide a sufficient amount of calories.

Along with the uprising of the fast food industry and supermarkets, has come the large increase in obesity. Since 1995, Australian obesity has increased 7.1% (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015). To view a timeline of the opening of fast foods stores in Australia click here: Although these fast food chains are being blamed for a majority of the obesity problem, the changing of lifestyles is the main factor. People are becoming more and more physically inactive and eat an increasing amount of calories. An article written by Rosie King contains many good comparisons between food in the 1960s and food nowadays:

The topic of food prices, portion sizes, and health relates to sustainability in a few ways. Overeating can lead to many diseases and force the person to live a less enjoyable life due to their poor health. Since the Earth’s population is growing at rates we cannot support, we need to focus on living healthier, more educated lives instead of longer ones. Another way food is related to sustainability is through farming methods. “Organic” products are thought to be grown in a way to benefit the Earth, but different people have differing opinions on what organic means. The prices of organic products are so high at times that most of the world cannot afford them and cannot help benefit the Earth.

Overall, both countries should reduce their prevalence of obesity by reducing portion size, but this is not necessarily the best way to go since large food companies control much of the economy. The best way to control the amount of food people eat is to police our own eating habits. The government in both countries also should consider programs that are dedicated to getting fresh foods to people for an affordable price.

Other links:

Works Cited:

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015, August 12). National Health Survey- Key findings. Retrieved from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, June 13). National Center for Health Statistics- Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from
  3. King, R., & Baker, J. (2016, February 28). Australia Obesity Epidemic: What’s fuelling Australia’s weight crisis? Retrieved from whats-fuelling-australias-weight-crisis/news-story/eb136f7ac9fe55330eadb064a3720aba
  4. Harker, D., Harker, M., & Svensen, S. (2007). Attributing blame: Exploring the link           between fast food advertising and obesity in australia. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 13(2), 33-46. doi:10.1300/J038v13n02_03
  5. Proctor, B. (2016, September 13). Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015. Retrieved from



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