Weighing In: New report highlights Australia's obesity problem

A new report from by the Collective for Action on Obesity shows that obesity is a growing problem for Australia. We must take urgent preventative steps to limit the personal and community toll.

It’s no secret that Australia is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. In 1990, around 8% of Australians were obese. But now 31.3% of all adults are obese. Rates are increasing from younger ages, with almost 25% of our kids now overweight or obese. Right now, 5.8 million of us are obese, but if current trends continue, that number will rise to 8.9 million by 2027.

Obesity is an equity issue, disproportionately affecting Indigenous and low income Australians.

The report also estimates that the average Australian pays an extra $790 in direct costs like health care costs, and $990 in indirect costs like productivity and foregone tax, every year.

Over recent years, governments have produced strategies and reports, but no real lasting action has occurred. Many strategies have tried to blame individual bad choices or lack of willpower, but there are actually many environmental and social reasons why people are obese.

Key facts from the report:

  • Less than a third of adults in this country are considered to be in the ‘normal weight’ range (not experiencing overweight, obesity or underweight).
  • The proportion of the population living with obesity has increased by 3.4% from 27.9% to 31.3%, meaning 900,000 more people are living with obesity since 2014- 15, increasing from almost 4.9 million to 5.8 million.
  • If the current trend continues, more than 40% of the Australian population will be living with obesity in the next ten years.
  • In the last three years, the highest relative growth was in the Class III category (BMI of 40 or higher), with the number in that category increasing by almost one third from 570,000 to 740,000 people with clinically severe obesity.

Read the full report.