A weight loss as small as three kilograms would significantly reduce the health risks experienced by overweight and obese Australians, a new study has found.
The study, published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), investigated the health impact - or “burden” - of excess weight in Australia in 2011.
“The report shows that the possible health impacts of overweight and obesity are substantial,” AIHW spokeswoman Dr Lynelle Moon told SBS News.
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"And even if we stopped the rising rates of overweight and obesity in Australia by maintaining our weight, about six per cent of this burden would be avoided."
Researchers found a loss of just one body mass index point - about three kilograms - was enough to see a significant drop in the overall health impact over being overweight or obese.
Two in three adults and one in four children are overweight or obese in Australia, according to the study, a health burden that increases the risk of chronic disease, including cancer and diabetes.
But the report found the burden of obesity and overweight impacted some groups more than others.
Men were at greater risk than women and so were poorer Australians.
“People from the lowest socioeconomic groups had burden rates 2.3 times higher than those from the highest,” Dr Moon said.
She said the most common diseases linked with obesity and overweight were cardiovascular disease, cancer and coronary heart disease.
The study also looked at the health impacts of obesity on people under 25 and found overweight and obese children and teens were more likely to develop asthma.
Adolescents aged between 15 and 24 were also more likely to develop some cancers and gallbladder disease.
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