The health industry is in major trouble, with a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing that two thirds of the adults are overweight or obese. However the worrying statistics don’t end there, with the Institute identifying that these figures are still rising.
Health complications and diseases that result from obesity are well documented, however the problem also extends to the economy. Rises in obesity are costing the country $8.6 billion dollars due to the most recent figures released all the way back in 2011-12. Given that obesity rates are on the rise, this is probably an extremely conservative figure, with the 2017-18 cost coming in significantly higher.
Alarmingly, the rates of obesity among men are much higher, with an estimated 71 per cent of Aussie men being overweight. Despite being on the better side of the study, it’s still not great news for women, with a 56% rate of being overweight or obese.
So how are these results possible, with our climate, sporting facilities, education, and fresh food availability? The study puts it down to three obvious factors: poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and an “obesogenic environment” (a lifestyle that supports obesity and inactivity).
Key factors in Australia’s obesogenic environment are narrowed down to schools, workplaces, households, and media that all support and favour convenience over physical activity. These factors, coupled with an increase in convenience foods and portion sizes, have lead to a lifestyle where we are sedative for up to 70 per cent of our waking hours.
The study identifies potential solutions to the epidemic, which are unlikely to please the population, but may be necessary in health promotion. These include legal regulations for food labeling, taxes on unhealthy snacks and ingredients, greater spending on health promotion, and community-based interventions. One more extreme suggestion is the provision of weight loss surgery to a wider population, posing potential complications.
Based on the figures, solutions and causes, the major take away from the study is that Australians need to move more, and eat less to reverse the current trends. Seems simple enough!
Related: The Fast Track To Obesity