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Unpacking Obesity Trends Among Australian Adults

9th May 2024

Swimming, surfing, cricket, rugby – given its small population, Australia has an impressive sporting record. The image from overseas is of a sun-drenched land where strong, fit people dive into the ocean at dawn and play beach volleyball as the sun sets.

That’s certainly true of some Aussies but by no means all. Stroll around your community and you’ll notice a wide range of different people of all shapes and sizes. Indeed, the statistics show that an increasing number of us are above a healthy weight.

Australia’s Obesity Rate

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is rising among Australian adults.

In 2017-18:

  • 1.3% of Australian adults were underweight
  • 31.7% were a normal weight
  • 35.6% were overweight
  • 31.3% were obese.

That means over two-thirds of Australians are now above a healthy weight.

As a nation, we’re getting heavier. In 1995, 57.2% of us were overweight or obese. By 2017-18, that had risen to 66.4%. Significantly, the percentage of overweight people has decreased – but only because the proportion of obese people has increased. People have moved into a heavier category.

In the Global Obesity Observatory’s ranking of the most obese countries, Australia ranks higher for male obesity than Canada and the UK. Our rate is double that of Switzerland and 4 times that of Japan.

Risk Factors For Obesity

Overweight and obesity mainly occur when we eat too much and move too little. That sounds simple – but it’s far more complex in real life.

Your weight is influenced by many factors, including your:

  • Genes
  • Psychological make-up – some people are prone to emotional eating
  • Activity levels and environment.

You’re more likely to be above a healthy weight if you:

  • Live alone
  • Have a disability
  • Live in a disadvantaged area
  • Live in outer regional or remote areas.

Australia’s Obesogenic Environment

An obesogenic environment is one that promotes obesity – one that makes it much easier to eat an unhealthy diet than a healthy one.

An obesogenic environment shows itself in many different ways, which could include:

  • Few healthy options in the work cafeteria
  • Large portions in every cafe or restaurant
  • Processed foods costing less than fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Being too busy to cook
  • A long, sedentary commute to work
  • Constant marketing promotions of sugary snacks or fatty fast foods.

It’s a very different world than the one our grandparents grew up in. They burned countless incidental calories walking to work or the shops and doing household chores or gardening. Snacking on unhealthy treats has also become much more common over the last century. Often, we know what we ‘ought’ to eat but it’s hard to choose the carrot sticks when you’re craving a sugar fix!

The Health Risks Of Obesity

The health risks of obesity are well-documented. Obesity is a major risk factor for:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Some musculoskeletal conditions
  • Some cancers.

Bariatric Surgery

Losing weight can make a big difference to your health and longevity. But it can be quite hard to shift the kilos and keep them off.

Bariatric surgery alters your digestive system to promote weight loss. Depending on the type of surgery, it may restrict how many calories you can eat or change how your body absorbs nutrients.

Bariatric surgery can kickstart your weight loss and help you maintain a healthy weight. That can improve your heart health, ease conditions like type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of some cancers.

How Can Dr Lockie Help?

Dr Lockie is a highly experienced weight loss surgeon with an excellent track record.

He leads a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss, believing that behavioural, dietary, psychological, physical and medical considerations all play a role in achieving and sustaining a healthy weight.

If you’ve been considering weight loss surgery but were worried about its risks, then we encourage you to come and talk to us.

Feel free to book an appointment today if you would like to explore your options.

Disclaimer

All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Dr Phil Lockie can consult with you to confirm if a particular procedure or treatment is right for you. All surgery carries risks.

References

AHPRA disclaimer

*All information is general in nature, patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks

Note From Dr Lockie

Medications will be assessed pre-operatively and post-operatively. With weight-loss and particularly after surgery, comorbidities can change for the better, particularly e.g., hypertension or diabetes. It is essential for your health that medications are discussed with you, your GP and/or any other specialists such as Cardiologist or Endocrinologist etc.

In addition, use of multivitamins, and alternative supplements should be discussed with the practice to promote your better health.

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