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New obesity report from the Obesity Collective

The Obesity Collective is an advocacy organisation representing 104 organisations and 265 members. They recently released a report called Weighing in: Australia’s growing obesity epidemic, in the hope of placing the issue on the government’s agenda and secure funding for meaningful action. Some highlights of the report are:

  • The number of people living with obesity has doubled over the past three years from 2.7 million to 5.8 million.
  • If current growth continues, within 10 years 4 in 10 adults will be living with obesity.
  • In the last three years, the highest relative growth was in the Class III category (BMI of 40 or higher), with the number in that category increasing by almost one third from 570,000 to 740,000. This clinically severe obese group also has the highest risk of health complications.
  • Rising incidence of obesity in children and adolescents: one in four children (1.2 million) over two years are overweight or obese, and 396,000 are living with obesity.
  • Rising incidence of obesity among those 16-17 years old; an increase from 7.9% in 2014-15 to 10.3% today. The report suggests obesity in adolescents be a focus for policy makers as their specific needs are often lost as conversations tend toward adults or children.
  • Obesity affects all sections of society, but equity is a major issue with rates being higher in communities with relative socio-economic disadvantage, lower levels of education attainment, regional and remote areas, and Indigenous Australians.
  • The cost of obesity in 2017-18 is estimated to be $11.8 billion. This is made up of $5.4 billion in direct health costs and $6.4 billion in indirect costs.
  • The word obesity is loaded with stigma, blame and shame. This stigma is a barrier to action. It also contributes to the challenge as it may lead to unhealthy eating and weight practices and avoidance of physical activity. One expert warned- “we need to be very careful not to just blame individuals for this challenge as the stigma and shame around this topic is unfair and harmful…”
  • Obesity needs to be a national priority.

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