Why Australians Are Fat Or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Backyard

The backyard, a place for your kid to get bindi-eye, bull-ants and/or crud stuck in their mouth.
The backyard, a place for your kid to get bindi-eye, bull-ants and/or crud stuck in their mouth.

Let me begin by saying that I’m 36 (and single, hello ladies) and therefore much of this article is inspired by a “back in my day” old man rant. So with that caveat out of the way let’s look at why kids today are fat… or to use the politically correct phrasing, suffering the effects of an obesity infection probably contracted by something they ate which is now at epidemic levels.

The backyard

“People don’t want backyards these days,” said the real estate agent. She was explaining the benefit of buying a shed on land that was less than a foot from an identical shed, a sheet of tin between, amongst a block of other sheds, all being sold under the term “houses”, which I suspect was permitted because they each had plumbing and an air-conditioner.

The backyard part 2

Did you have a backyard as a kid? They were a lot like the ipods and mobile phones of today. When a child was bored it would be told to “Go play with the backyard” – at least my parent said that. Often the play consisted of pushing a stick at things that were dead or that would soon be dead. Failing a backyard the frontyard or street or local park was good. The latter two places allowed for friends to be made by a shared interest in sand. That was before everyone was living next door to maniacs. TV says that maniacs are everywhere these days.


The bridging drug to all this computer screen time was the Tamagotchi. This word is Japanese for “not a real living thing” and by mimicking the Tamagotchi kids today are not real living things either. More like the blob character in that movie the Island of Dr. Moreau. PS: Don’t bother watching that movie. The joke’s not worth it.

The backyard part 3

Real estate agents aren’t the problem. They might be pushing the word that a space for exercise and clothes drying is of the past, but they are not the devil. What do they call them… property moguls I think is the collective noun for devils these days. Property moguls smash things down to build cramp abodes as a way of making population density and money.

Sugar drinks

‘Your brain craves sugar,’ so said the teenager I was studying with recently. My brain craves sleep and stimulating conversation (hello ladies). Apparently the old fashioned method of studying and sleeping and finding you have remembered stuff in the morning is not what happens to the human body any more. It has changed. Caffeine and sugar drinks are what’s required. The teenager got an extra two marks on her test to mine so there’s some evidence. Still, caffeine and sugar are addictive. Maybe the brain likes the hit as with heroin. Energy drinks are the heroin of today.

The backyard part 4

Having a parent rub on your sun screen and then watch you from the kitchen. Your day spent trying to build a tree house like Punky Brewster. Digging a hole to find water or telephone cables or gold. Yelling out, ‘Dad, I dug a hole,’ and hearing, ‘That’s great Dale.’ and then wondering why you’ve been called Dale. Exercise, outdoors, memories. You don’t get those from pumping sugar into you while sitting in a shed playing Tamagotchi on your tablet!


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