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Country watch

10.8 million Australians are overweight or obese

Obesity in the country has increased from 11% in 1989 to 28 per cent in 2011-12.

More than six out of ten Australian adults are too fat to be healthy, according to data that shows 10.8 million are overweight or obese. The new report. ‘National Health Performance Authority 2013, Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2011–12 (In Focus)’, also shows that obesity in the country has increased from 11% in 1989 to 28 per cent in 2011-12.

It is thought that this is the first report to show that the percentage of adults who were obese varied threefold across local areas, from 14% in Sydney North Shore and Beaches to 41% in Loddon-Mallee-Murray.  The percentage of adults who were overweight or obese increased with geographic remoteness and lower socioeconomic status.

However, 54% of adults in the wealthiest urban areas were overweight or obese, and almost two in ten (19%) were obese.

The area of greatest concern is western New South Wales, where 79% of people are overweight or obese. The second is Queensland's Townsville-Mackay, followed by country South Australia, Victoria's Gippsland and Western Australia's Goldfields-Midwest, with approximately three quarters of the population overweight.

Eastern Sydney is the slimmest area, with 49% of people overweight or obese, while Sydney's north shore and northern beaches and inner north-west Melbourne follow at 50%.

“Using our local-level analysis, clinicians and health managers can now better target and drive health system improvements specific to their local community’s needs,” said Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson. “Rates of adult obesity have been rising very rapidly over time, while smoking rates have been falling nationally. The health and economic impact of obesity and smoking can be extremely serious.”

To access the report, pleas click here

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