The survey conducted in 188 countries ranked Australians as the world’s 30th largest with Brits only a place behind at number 31.
While the US has long been known as a nation of fat people, and placed at no 23, Australians and Brits are closing the gap at an alarming rate.
Lancet medical journal published this report on Thursday showing that more than 6 out of 10 Australians needed to chomp on lettuce instead of guzzling beer. This translates to 11 million Australians tipping the scales into the ‘red’.
Young Australians fared better than their parents and ranked at number 52. This means that almost a quarter of young Australians were considered candidates for immediate weight loss.
Our article published earlier this month “Aussie kids amongst least active in world: study” confirms these findings as the nation’s children seem to be living sedentary life-styles which could lead to health concerns like diabetes, obesity, raised blood pressure and general ill-health.
With Australia’s recently announced budget cuts to the health sector it sends off even more alarm bells.
“We should be incredibly worried,” says the report’s co-author, Professor Graeme Hankey, of the University of Western Australia.
He added that the report found that other developed countries are starting to plateau, but this is not the case for both Australia and New Zealand.
“Apart from the burden of diabetes, heart disease and stroke it causes wear and tear on the knees, hips and spine from having to carry the weight around,” says Hankey.
“We seem to have nailed tobacco and reversed the trend, but we are not doing very well at managing this [obesity].”
Professor Rob Moodie of the Melbourne school of population health said that junk food was partly to blame for the growing number of overweight Australians.
“The [Australian] environment is geared towards over-consumption because of the way food is marketed and because of a lack of regulation,” he said.
“The junk food and processed food industry is enormously powerful. The politicians are absolutely frightened.
“It’s all over sport and social media. The exposure of children to junk food and junk drink advertising needs to be reduced,” he added.
Professor Moodie said that a good start to addressing the pandemic would be to reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar in processed food. He believes that the best way to do this is to include all foods thereby reducing the risk to the nation as a whole.
“We need sensible regulation to make sensible choices much easier than they are at the moment.”