Epi­demic of obese adults

Midwest Times - - NEWS - Josh Zim­mer­man

West Aus­tralians are the fat­test they have ever been, with just un­der a third now clas­si­fied as obese and nearly seven in 10 over­weight.

For the first time the State is home to more obese peo­ple (32.1 per cent) than those with a body mass in­dex (BMI) that cat­e­gorises them as ei­ther healthy or un­der­weight (31 per cent).

On aver­age, WA men are about 14kg heav­ier than the up­per range of healthy. Women are 10.5kg over­weight. The shock­ing find­ings are con­tained in the Health Depart­ment’s an­nual re­port into the health and well­be­ing of adults and re­veal women un­der the age of 44 are now nearly as likely to be obese as men, a big de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous years.

The re­port is based on in­ter­views with al­most 6000 adults and shows the obe­sity rate has risen more than 10 per cent from 21.3 per cent in 2002.

In a July sub­mis­sion to a Fed­eral in­quiry into Aus­tralia’s obe­sity epi­demic, Health Min­is­ter Roger Cook de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as a “wicked” and “es­ca­lat­ing pub­lic health prob­lem” and called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to re­strict chil­dren’s ex­po­sure to mar­ket­ing of un­healthy food and drink and con­sider a sugar tax on bev­er­ages.

This week, act­ing Health Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia said chronic dis­ease caused by ex­cess weight ru­ined lives and placed a bur­den on tax­pay­ers fund­ing the pub­lic health sys­tem.

A fea­si­bil­ity study was un­der way to in­tro­duce manda­tory kilo­joule la­belling to fast-food menus and al­co­hol adverts had been banned on all pub­lic trans­port. “While some ini­tia­tives can be ad­dressed at State level, we can’t make all the changes needed on our own. I have asked the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to con­sider de­vel­op­ing a na­tional obe­sity preven­tion strat­egy,” Mr Pa­palia said.

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (WA) pres­i­dent Omar Khor­shid de­scribed the obe­sity epi­demic as a cri­sis that would worsen with­out con­certed in­ter­ven­tion. He said the AMA strongly sup­ported a levy on sug­ary drinks and a floor price on al­co­hol to help re­duce binge drink­ing, a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to weight gain.

Mr Khor­shid said re­strict­ing the ad­ver­tis­ing of junk food, fast food and al­co­hol could have an im­me­di­ate im­pact.

“Re­search sug­gests most peo­ple are gain­ing weight be­tween the ages of 1830, once they leave home and start mak­ing their own choices,” Dr Khor­shid said.

“When it comes to healthy eat­ing and drink­ing, and mes­sages around junk food and al­co­hol, that is the group we need to be tar­get­ing.”

He said chil­dren should drink noth­ing but wa­ter and milk. “We need to cre­ate a so­ci­ety where when you are thirsty, you reach for wa­ter not a sug­ary drink,” he said.

Obe­sity spiked nearly 4 per cent in 2017 alone, up to 32.1 per cent from 28.4 per cent the year prior.

The num­ber of peo­ple with a BMI at or below 25 (the max­i­mum thresh­old to be con­sid­ered healthy) is the low­est it has ever been.

At the same time, the num­ber of peo­ple clas­si­fied as over­weight has also re­duced, in­di­cat­ing the fat are be­com­ing even fat­ter and mov­ing into the obese cat­e­gory.

Wor­ry­ingly, the per­cent­age of obese adults in the 16-44 age bracket jumped from 20.8 per cent in 2016 to 28.3 per cent last year. For women, the climb was even starker — 17.1 per cent to 26.9 per cent.

Some 51.5 per cent of peo­ple clas­si­fied as over­weight per­ceived their weight as nor­mal.

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