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Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby James » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:36 pm

Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

AUSTRALIA is the world's most overweight nation, ahead of the notoriously supersized Americans, according to a new study.

The report shows nine million Australian adults are fatter than they should be.

Experts are now calling for extreme measures like gym discounting and denial of surgery based on body mass index (BMI) to rectify the situation.

"These might be controversial but they won't just be targeting a small sub-set of Australians," said Professor Simon Stewart, head of preventative cardiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

"Overweight and obese people now make up the vast majority of us and these are the drastic measures now needed to bring these numbers down."

The report, released ahead of the federal government's obesity inquiry, presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians nationwide in 2005.

It gives the most thorough picture of obesity since the AusDiab study in 1999, and Prof Stewart, who authored it, says it shows the burden has been underplayed.

"Based on the old data and self-reported surveys, we had thought that seven million adults were obese or overweight, but it is actually nine million," he said.

"That is a whole million more obese adults than we had thought."

The report, entitled "Australia's Future Fat Bomb", shows the middle-aged are leading the way, with seven in 10 men and six on 10 women aged 45 to 64 now registering a BMI of 25 or more.

An analysis of the data shows that there will be an extra 700,000 heart-related hospital admissions in the next 20 years due to obesity alone.

Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely.

"I would regard this as now the biggest threat to our future health," Prof Stewart said.

"As we send our athletes off to the Olympics let's reflect on the fact that we would win the gold medal problem now in the world fat Olympics if there was such a thing.

"We used to be down mid-table, but I'm picking that we're now the gold medal favourites."

The report calls for a national weightloss strategy on the scale of smoking and skin cancer campaigns, including subsidising gym memberships and personal training sessions for heavier people.

Wait lists for surgery could be prioritised on the basis of weightloss.

"These are some of the controversial things we need to deal with because the healthcare system is going to be overwhelmed by weight-related hospitalisations from knee replacements through to heart attacks and strokes."

Professor Ian Caterson, director of the Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Sydney, agreed such measures were needed.

"Governments have to start thinking outside the square because as we get fatter and older as a nation things are just going to get worse," Prof Caterson said.




http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23889207-661,00.html

So it's ok to discriminate against overweight people now is it?
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby MelbGirl08 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:01 am

Yeah, I read that article this morning.

I think it's a bit premature to be coming to conclusions that the reason so many Aussies are overweight/obese because of we're lazy, don't go to the gym or are not taking care of what we eat.

The government authorities are being a bit hypocritical I think. Here they are, advocating discounted gym memberships and personal training, yet a recent study has found that Australians take the least annual leave and that we work the longest hours than any other Western industrialised country in the world! If the government was serious about the obesity crisis in this country, they would make living more affordable so that people didn't have to work 12 hour days and then grab take-away on their way home. Most people I know simply do not have the time to be exercising for the right amount every day because they're too busy at work! So much for work/life balance! Who's got the time to be sweating it out when there's a mortgage and bills to pay and the petrol prices are fast spiralling out of control.

I compare this to the pathetic government attempts to get people to quit smoking: the government gets massive profits through the tobacco companies via tax and other revenues - do they "really" want you to quit? :x

Besides, BMI's do not take into account muscle percentages or bone density or age, therefore they are not always an accurate way of determining whether a person is overweight.

And "World Fat Olympics"? What a disgrace. Only a skinny stick insect who's never been over 50kg's could say such a thing.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby lng86 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:12 am

What a perfectly written reply!
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby GoddessInside » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:36 am

MelbGirl08 wrote:Yeah, I read that article this morning.

I think it's a bit premature to be coming to conclusions that the reason so many Aussies are overweight/obese because of we're lazy, don't go to the gym or are not taking care of what we eat.

The government authorities are being a bit hypocritical I think. Here they are, advocating discounted gym memberships and personal training, yet a recent study has found that Australians take the least annual leave and that we work the longest hours than any other Western industrialised country in the world! If the government was serious about the obesity crisis in this country, they would make living more affordable so that people didn't have to work 12 hour days and then grab take-away on their way home. Most people I know simply do not have the time to be exercising for the right amount every day because they're too busy at work! So much for work/life balance! Who's got the time to be sweating it out when there's a mortgage and bills to pay and the petrol prices are fast spiralling out of control.

I compare this to the pathetic government attempts to get people to quit smoking: the government gets massive profits through the tobacco companies via tax and other revenues - do they "really" want you to quit? :x

Besides, BMI's do not take into account muscle percentages or bone density or age, therefore they are not always an accurate way of determining whether a person is overweight.

And "World Fat Olympics"? What a disgrace. Only a skinny stick insect who's never been over 50kg's could say such a thing.


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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby MelbGirl08 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:49 pm

Thanks for the support guys. :D

I get really emo about this issue, mainly because I'm living in this "fatsuit" 24/7 and I see how people look at me and think "Oh, look at that fatty there...she eats the cake and takes it too!"

When people let themselves go in terms of weight, it really shows how they're feeling on the inside and its sad. If given a choice, would any overweight person choose to be overweight? And in majority of the cases, its NOT a choice. I know that this is hard to comprehend for people who have never had a weight problem and that were born "perfect", but there are so many internal and external factors that contribute to a person's weight that have NOTHING to do with being too lazy to exercise and eating the wrong foods. If it was that simple, the weightloss industry would not be a multi-billion dollar conglomerate preying on the insecurities and low self esteem of vulnerable people.

Lets cut the tax on healthy foods and lets make it more accessible and affordable! We're told that organic and non-processed foods are best, yet how expensive are organic and non-organic vegetables? Its cheaper to buy a pack of pasta than it is to stock up on fresh vegies and fruit. If you had only $100 per week to feed your family with, would you be buying organic vegetables or would it be more viable to opt for staples such as rice, pasta, milk and bread?

Let's see the government provide a scheme where it will be encouraged for people to exercise and keep active with their families, how about gyms at every workplace for example or the option of flex-time where you can start later or earlier and squeeze in a jog or a run before or after work?

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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby Cac33 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:19 pm

Well said & totally agree.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby Strawberry » Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:54 pm

Some of you have very strong view on this, i just want to say that it scares me that I am one of these "statistical people" that is being talked about and i want to do all i can to not be a statistic.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby loveat116 » Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:12 pm

MelbGirl08 wrote:The government authorities are being a bit hypocritical I think. Here they are, advocating discounted gym memberships and personal training, yet a recent study has found that Australians take the least annual leave and that we work the longest hours than any other Western industrialised country in the world! If the government was serious about the obesity crisis in this country, they would make living more affordable so that people didn't have to work 12 hour days and then grab take-away on their way home. Most people I know simply do not have the time to be exercising for the right amount every day because they're too busy at work! So much for work/life balance! Who's got the time to be sweating it out when there's a mortgage and bills to pay and the petrol prices are fast spiralling out of control.


I find that hard to believe, that Australians are overworked and don't take annual leave. We are the country who takes the MOST holidays/vacations in the world. In the UK people often don't leave the office until 9pm, and that's normal.Whereas here, people leave at 5:30pm most of the time.

I dont think 'being too busy at work' should be an excuse. Everyone can find the time to exercise. EG. going for a walk in your lunch break, walking either to and from home, getting up an hour earlier to go for a walk or go to the gym!

It's not the governements problem, sure they should take some responsibility, but it all comes down to the individuals choice.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby EvilWombatQueen » Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:56 pm

oveat116 wrote:I find that hard to believe, that Australians are overworked and don't take annual leave. We are the country who takes the MOST holidays/vacations in the world.


Here is an article quoting the study mentioned. According to that study we are the least likely to take the annual leave we are entitled to. So while we may be granted more holidays than many other countries, we're not actually taking those holidays. While your experience may say that office workers leave earlier here than in the UK, that's only one area of work. I know factory workers who regularly do as much overtime as they can to make ends meet. And I know shop assistants and cleaners who do the same. As a university lecturer I can assure you that we do far more hours than what's seen on paper, and I know full-time lecturers who never get home before 9pm on weeknights.

Telling people to get up an hour earlier to go for a walk or go to the gym is often not possible, either. My old gym didn't even open until 9am! There are some places that simply aren't safe to walk around at 5am. And not everyone can afford a gym.

That said, I think everyone can find a way to fit some exercise in. But rather than playing a moralistic blame game (like the media seem to want to do) it's better to show ways of fitting in incidental exercise in the day rather than expecting busy people to somehow find an extra hour for dedicated exercise. After all, if we want people to lose weight we're also going to be expecting them to find an extra hour to shop for and cook fresh food instead of relying on takeaway. All those hours add up. Unfortunately our current society supports a convenience lifestyle. We need to find new ways to support a healthy lifestyle instead.

When it comes to getting incidental exercise we really need to be designing our suburbs to encourage people to start walking. Grid layouts of streets may not look as pretty, but they've been shown to increase the amount of walking done to get from place to place. And when planning new estates there should be supermarkets and grocery stores close by, otherwise people have no choice but to jump in the car to go to the shops.

Yes, some people make excuses as to why they can't lose weight. But I believe that we need to take responsibility as a society for why we've engineered a culture where it's so much easier to get fat than stay thin.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby MelbGirl08 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:09 am

Thank you WombatQueen for the link to the story and the post.

That was exactly the point I was trying to make.

I work full time and study part time. On weekdays I get up at 5:00 am in order to start work at 7:30am (I take the public transport since I live a while from the city and actually WALK from the train station to work, so there's my incidental exercise).

I leave work @ 4:30 pm and am not home by 6:00 pm. That, for me, is a 12 hour day.

My point here being - and this is in support of EvilWombatQueen's statement - is most people spend so much time time at work, on public transport, on overtime, etc that there are sometimes not enough hours in the day! For example, I walk to work in the morning for 30 min and take a lunchtime walk for about 20 min, but I know I should be doing more. I simply do not have the time.

Whilst I do not hold the government entirely responsible for the millions of people who are overweight/obese, I do believe that the type of society that we live in and the lifestyle we lead, is perpetuated by those in charge, whether they be government or corporations.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby electrongirl » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:01 am

I'd love to go for a walk on my lunch break but I only get 30 minutes and no other break so I have to either go and get my lunch then eat it, or heat it up and then eat it which doesn't leave much time to go for a walk.

Also I work in retail and I dont think my boss would appreciate a sweaty sales person serving his customers!!
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby electrongirl » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:05 am

loveat116 wrote:
MelbGirl08 wrote:The government authorities are being a bit hypocritical I think. Here they are, advocating discounted gym memberships and personal training, yet a recent study has found that Australians take the least annual leave and that we work the longest hours than any other Western industrialised country in the world! If the government was serious about the obesity crisis in this country, they would make living more affordable so that people didn't have to work 12 hour days and then grab take-away on their way home. Most people I know simply do not have the time to be exercising for the right amount every day because they're too busy at work! So much for work/life balance! Who's got the time to be sweating it out when there's a mortgage and bills to pay and the petrol prices are fast spiralling out of control.


I find that hard to believe, that Australians are overworked and don't take annual leave. We are the country who takes the MOST holidays/vacations in the world. In the UK people often don't leave the office until 9pm, and that's normal.Whereas here, people leave at 5:30pm most of the time.

I dont think 'being too busy at work' should be an excuse. Everyone can find the time to exercise. EG. going for a walk in your lunch break, walking either to and from home, getting up an hour earlier to go for a walk or go to the gym!

It's not the governements problem, sure they should take some responsibility, but it all comes down to the individuals choice.


I'm not trying to be a censored here but you are very young and I am sure you don't have to worry about things such as increasing rent/mortgages, bills, debt, costs of raising children, increasing food costs, increasing petrol etc. So I am sure you don't have to worry about working overtime or a second job to avoid having your car or house taken away from you.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby EvilWombatQueen » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:07 am

I spoke to my other half about this last night and he had a good point that hasn't been raised so far. Not everyone is an office worker. He works in a factory. He gets up at 4.00am and comes home at 3.00pm aching and absolutely physically knackered. Obviously there's no way he can get up an hour earlier than he already does to go for a run. And after walking on concrete and lifting heavy objects all day I'd dare anyone to go to the gym! I worked in a factory for a few months and I did absolutely no exercise outside of work. I was just too sore and tired constantly.

For people with manual labour jobs often the problem isn't exercise, it's food. Just look at industrial estates where these factories are located. It's cheaper to get a pie and chips than a salad sandwich at the takeaway places there. And if you live in a working class suburb you'll find a fast food joint on every corner, with discount vouchers for junk food stuffed in your letter box every day, but you'll have to go out of your way and drive to a shopping centre for a supermarket and some fresh food. If you can feed a family of four on a ten dollar pizza voucher for dinner where is the incentive to spend extra time, money and effort to cook a healthy meal?

My solution wouldn't be to subsidise gym memberships. All that would achieve would be to have the gyms put their memberships up by 30% like the private health insurers did when their private industry got subsidised. Personally I would fund council run fitness initiatives. And tax fatty, salty, sugary and overprocessed food at the same rate we tax alcohol and cigarettes. Then put those funds towards subsidising fresh food. For private business to come to the table and make healthy food as easily available as fast food there needs to be a profit incentive in it for them and this would go miles towards that goal.

Wouldn't it be great if we had as many fruit & veg shops with drive-through windows as MacDonald's? Or an organic food shop in place of every 7-11?
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby loveat116 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:30 am

electrongirl wrote:
loveat116 wrote:
MelbGirl08 wrote:The government authorities are being a bit hypocritical I think. Here they are, advocating discounted gym memberships and personal training, yet a recent study has found that Australians take the least annual leave and that we work the longest hours than any other Western industrialised country in the world! If the government was serious about the obesity crisis in this country, they would make living more affordable so that people didn't have to work 12 hour days and then grab take-away on their way home. Most people I know simply do not have the time to be exercising for the right amount every day because they're too busy at work! So much for work/life balance! Who's got the time to be sweating it out when there's a mortgage and bills to pay and the petrol prices are fast spiralling out of control.


I find that hard to believe, that Australians are overworked and don't take annual leave. We are the country who takes the MOST holidays/vacations in the world. In the UK people often don't leave the office until 9pm, and that's normal.Whereas here, people leave at 5:30pm most of the time.

I dont think 'being too busy at work' should be an excuse. Everyone can find the time to exercise. EG. going for a walk in your lunch break, walking either to and from home, getting up an hour earlier to go for a walk or go to the gym!

It's not the governements problem, sure they should take some responsibility, but it all comes down to the individuals choice.


I'm not trying to be a censored here but you are very young and I am sure you don't have to worry about things such as increasing rent/mortgages, bills, debt, costs of raising children, increasing food costs, increasing petrol etc. So I am sure you don't have to worry about working overtime or a second job to avoid having your car or house taken away from you.


Young people are the ones who are going to lose with rising house prices, rising petrol prices etc.
I am going to have to face those costs eventually! and when I do it will be 3 times as hard as it was for my parents, even though I am not dealing with it now I will be.

I get paid 50% less than everyone else because I am 19, even though I do the same amount of work as my older counterparts, I get paid LESS because of my age. Because of this I DO have to work a second job, so I can pay for my ever increasing medical bills, my crazy rent (hobart is one of the highest in the country), petrol.
But I make do with what I have.
Im not going to let that affect my health and wellbeing.

I do not like it when I am critisised for my age yet I have had to deal with things that people don't deal with in a lifetime.
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Re: Obesity epidemic puts Aussies above Americans

Postby loveat116 » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:34 am

EvilWombatQueen wrote:I spoke to my other half about this last night and he had a good point that hasn't been raised so far. Not everyone is an office worker. He works in a factory. He gets up at 4.00am and comes home at 3.00pm aching and absolutely physically knackered. Obviously there's no way he can get up an hour earlier than he already does to go for a run. And after walking on concrete and lifting heavy objects all day I'd dare anyone to go to the gym! I worked in a factory for a few months and I did absolutely no exercise outside of work. I was just too sore and tired constantly.

For people with manual labour jobs often the problem isn't exercise, it's food. Just look at industrial estates where these factories are located. It's cheaper to get a pie and chips than a salad sandwich at the takeaway places there. And if you live in a working class suburb you'll find a fast food joint on every corner, with discount vouchers for junk food stuffed in your letter box every day, but you'll have to go out of your way and drive to a shopping centre for a supermarket and some fresh food. If you can feed a family of four on a ten dollar pizza voucher for dinner where is the incentive to spend extra time, money and effort to cook a healthy meal?

My solution wouldn't be to subsidise gym memberships. All that would achieve would be to have the gyms put their memberships up by 30% like the private health insurers did when their private industry got subsidised. Personally I would fund council run fitness initiatives. And tax fatty, salty, sugary and overprocessed food at the same rate we tax alcohol and cigarettes. Then put those funds towards subsidising fresh food. For private business to come to the table and make healthy food as easily available as fast food there needs to be a profit incentive in it for them and this would go miles towards that goal.

Wouldn't it be great if we had as many fruit & veg shops with drive-through windows as MacDonald's? Or an organic food shop in place of every 7-11?


I completly agree. Manual labourers get more than enough exercise, it is the food that is a problem. And its horrible that healthy food is so expensive and its SO CHEAP to go get a pie and coke.

I suppose fresh healthy food is so expensive because of the drought and the environmental pressures that farmers are under...
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