Australia’s obesity rates are on the rise

obeseThe UK and U.S. are two of the most obvious nations that spring to mind associated with the words: ‘obesity crisis’. However, there are numerous other countries in the developed world that are also apparently fighting a battle against the bulge.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council has today released its fourth report on the National Healthcare Agreement, showing that although smoking rates appear to be slightly improving, there are a ‘staggering’ number of Australians who are now overweight or obese.

According to statistics within the report, during the period 2011-12, a shocking 63% of Australians were either overweight or obese. This figure had risen by 2% from the four years prior to this. In total, it was determined 35% of the population were overweight and 28% were obese. Moreover, 7.6% of children in Australia were deemed obese, with an extra 17.7% being overweight.

According to NHS definitions, you are overweight if you have a body mass index (BMI) that is between 25 and 29. A BMI of between 30 and 40, results in an ‘obese’ classification.  Obesity levels for the whole of the UK could be comparable after a survey published in 2012 discovered that approximately just over a quarter of all adults (26%) in England are classified as obese. In addition, around 61.3% of adults in England either overweight or obese and 30% of children aged between 2 and 15. All statistics for England appear to roughly match those found in the new Australian report.

The COAG chairman John Brumby, was dismayed by Australia’s weight problem, saying: “It’s concerning to see that so many Australians are overweight or obese.”

The report has also urged the government to start taking the issue of obesity more seriously and take steps to tackle the problem, “but the fact that the situation is getting worse suggests that it needs urgent attention from our governments to prevent flow-on effects across the system. The news here is something that should be of concern to us all and concern to policy makers across Australia. We all know that obesity is contributing to the burden of chronic disease in Australia. It affects individuals, it affects workplaces, it affects productivity,” says Brumby.

The findings were not all doom and gloom however, and Brumby was clearly delighted with what he described as the ‘stand out result’ – a sustained decline in Australia’s national daily smoking rate in 2011-12 to 16.5%.

In 2007-08 this figure stood at 19.1% and in 1989-90 it was 28.4%, so progress is gradually being made and the number is slowly moving towards COAG’s aim of just 10% by the year 2018.

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