Heart Foundation warns on Christmas weight gain


Between Christmas parties and edible presents, it can be difficult not to gain weight during the silly season, yet if current trends continue, less than one in four Australians will be of normal weight by 2031–32, according to new Heart Foundation and Deakin University joint research.

The research also found that by 2031–32 more Australians will be classified as obese based on their BMI than overweight or normal, with the average person set to be 5kgs heavier within the same timeframe.

These statistics come from the Heart Foundation and Deakin University’s Australian heart disease statistics: Overweight, obesity and cardiovascular disease – past, present and future .

The research also found:

  • In 2011–12, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes accounted for about $16 billion of total current expenditure on health services in Australia. This figure is expected to increase to $58 billion, or 14%, of current health expenditure in 2031–32.
  • The number of obese adults is expected to approximately double by 2031–32, which means that 41% of the adult population will be obese. There will be a 34% increase in the number of overweight adults, which compares to a 38% increase in the adult population in the two decades to 2031–32.
  • The total expenditure on cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in 2011–12 attributable to elevated BMI is $3.9 billion but this will increase to $16.9 billion in 2031–32 if overweight and obesity continue to increase at the same rate they did from 1995 to 2005.
  • The total extra expenditure for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes from 2011–12 to 2031–32 due to excess weight is estimated to be $187 billion.

 

National Heart Foundation General Manager Advocacy, Rohan Greenland says obesity and unhealthy diets have now overtaken smoking as the leading preventable health burden and are behind the surge in heart disease and diabetes.

“It’s fine to enjoy special occasions like Christmas Day, however it is important to make healthy diet choices every other day,” Greenland says.

“The shift away from a healthy balanced diet to one filled with an ever-increasing supply of cheap, high-calorie foods is a recipe for poor health and one of the main drivers feeding our obesity crisis.

“With 35% of Australians’ diet being from discretionary foods, our obesity crisis is blatantly visible. The challenge is now one of urgent action.

“We need to face the reality that unless urgent interventions are made to curb our growing waist lines, Australia will be a country plagued with poor heath and increased economic burden in terms of health funding.

“Great improvements can be made through policies designed to counter the problem, such as ceasing junk food marketing to children, introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, and supercharging the national food reformulation program.

“These policies and others are needed to bring our obesity crisis under control and it needs to happen now – we no longer have time on our side.”

Steven Allender, Deakin’s professor of public health and co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention based at the University says, “While Australia has made significant gains in addressing the burden of chronic disease, this report sounds a warning call that the prevalence of overweight and obesity is a major future challenge to the health of Australians.”

The Heart Foundation continues to call on the Government to develop and implement a comprehensive national obesity prevention strategy and National Physical Activity Action Plan as measures to curb Australia’s growing obesity crisis.

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