Obesity rates in Australia and New Zealand have soared by more than 80 per cent in the past 33 years, the biggest increase in a groundbreaking survey of almost 200 countries.
The findings, which reveal almost one in three Australians is obese, intensifies pressure on the government to restrict junk food marketing, restore the healthy food-star rating system and force companies to cut sugar and fat in processed food and drink.
”Waiting for a cure is not possible,” says Rob Moodie, the professor of public health at the University of Melbourne. ”The public health system will be crushed by the obesity crisis and the rise in cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”
Australia is one of the fattest nations, jumping almost 40 places to 25th in obesity ranking, just behind the US but well ahead of France, Finland, Germany and Japan.
The analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 study, led by University of Washington researchers and published in the journal Lancet, examined the rates of excessive weight in adults and children in 188 countries between 1980 and 2013.
It found 29 per cent – or 5.2 million – Australian adults are now obese according to their body mass index, a measure of the relationship between height and weight, compared to 16 per cent in 1980. About one quarter of children and more than 60 per cent of adults are either overweight or obese. One third of women are obese, a 75 per cent increase since 1980.