Obesity at record levels in Australia

  • Three in 10 adults are living with obesity, the National Health Survey reveals
  • The rate of obesity has almost doubled since 1995
  • Obesity is estimated to cost the Australian community $87.7 billion by 2032

More Australians are living with obesity than ever before, putting an immense strain on the nation’s healthcare system and economy.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey released today revealed 2 in 3 adults (65.8%) are living with overweight or obesity.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland lead for public health nutrition Mathew Dick said while rates of overweight had remained stable over recent times, the rate of obesity (now 31.7%) had almost doubled since 1995.

‘People living with obesity are at an increased risk of developing chronic conditions and some cancers,’ Mr Dick said.

‘If we don’t act now to reverse this, we’ll see more people hospitalised with preventable conditions that severely impact their quality and length of life.

‘It’s also estimated if these rates go unchanged that obesity will cost the Australian community $87.7 billion by 2032.’

Mr Dick said the rates of overweight and obesity could be much higher than reported in the 2022 National Health Survey as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in participants self-reporting their height and weight to calculate BMI.

‘People often under-estimate their weight and over-estimate their height when self-reporting, which means there’s likely to be a significant gap between these results and what would have been shown if participants had been accurately measured.’

Health and Wellbeing Queensland, the state’s prevention agency, is working to address the significant challenges to reduce and prevent obesity and improve healthy behaviours such as vegetable and fruit consumption.

The draft Making Healthy Happen strategy, which is Queensland’s response to the National Obesity Strategy, is with the Queensland Government for consideration. Health and Wellbeing Queensland invests more than $20 million annually to shift the dial on obesity, and currently reaches 430,000 adults through its prevention programs and 25,000 primary school students through its healthy eating school program Pick of the Crop.

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