Obesity Crisis: Aussie Blokes Have Put On Weight

Aussie blokes are putting on weight at a greater rate than Aussie women, with the average male gaining 8kg from 1985 to 2017, while the average female gained 6kg.

Responding to the findings, from an international study published in the journal Nature, Bill Stavreski, General Manager of the Heart Foundation told SBS:

"As a country, we can't really demonstrate that we eat well. 90-plus per cent of Australians don't eat enough serves of vegetables. More than half don't eat enough serves of fruit [and] Australians don't exercise as much as we believe we do. If action isn't taken immediately this health problem will continue to grow".

Excess body weight is a risk factor for many conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea and osteoarthritis.

Being overweight or obese is a health issue that now affects 71% of Australian men and 56% of Australian women.  

On average, men are nearly 1.3 times more likely than women to be overweight or obese, though other factors such as age and social status also play a role.

For example, men over 55 are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese than men under 25. Similarly, women over 65 are more than twice as likely to be overweight than women under 25.

Social status doesn’t protect men

While getting older puts both men and women at increased risk of becoming overweight and obese, social status appears to have a different impact.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the risk of being overweight and obese for men compared with women from the same background  is:

  • 27% higher for the general population
  • 20% times higher for those living in the poorest areas
  • 44% times higher for those living in the richest areas

Last October at a COAG Health Council meeting, ministers agreed that a new National Obesity Strategy would be developed. In theory, any such strategy should be aligned to the National Men's Health Strategy and place a focus on the specific needs and preferences of men and boys.

According to the men's health strategy, the high levels of chronic conditions among men in Australia reinforces the need for an increasing focus on promoting healthy lifestyle choices and decreasing health risk factors such as overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and poor dietary choices.

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