Major spike in weight gain over past 30 years, study finds

From 1985 to 2017, the average Australian male gained 8kg and the average female added 6kg.

The study was released on Thursday.

The study was released on Thursday. Source: Getty

The average Australian has gained a significant amount of weight over the past three decades, according to a new study.

A study, published on Thursday in the journal Nature, found that between 1985 to 2017, the average Australian male gained 8kg, with the average female adding 6kg.

The study examined data from more than 112 million people from 200 countries and territories. It showed the average person internationally became 5-6kg heavier over these years.

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Australian children of parents born abroad in poorer countries are more likely to be overweight or obese, compared to wealthier counterparts.
Australian children of parents born abroad in poorer countries are more likely to be overweight or obese, compared to wealthier counterparts. Source: AAP


General manager of heart health at the Heart Foundation Bill Stavreski told SBS News this was a "significant weight gain" for Australia.

"Just to put it in perspective ... 30 years ago, the average Australian person was in the normal weight range, now the average Australian, whether male or female, is in the overweight weight range," Mr Stavreski said.

"This places enormous pressure and cost on our health system," he said, explaining that being overweight "increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease".



The study also found a higher proportion of adults in major Australian cities were overweight compared to outer regional and rural areas.

From 2011-12 to 2017-18, there has been a 25 per cent increase in city dwellers who are overweight compared to only a five per cent increase for those in outer regional and rural areas.

Mr Stavreski said there were "two key reasons" for the overall weight gain in Australia.

"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," he said.

"[Also] Australians don't exercise as much as we believe we do."

Experts are urging Australian to think about their diets.
Experts are urging Australian to think about their diets. Source: Getty


He said, "if action isn't taken immediately this health problem will continue to grow".

Last October at a COAG Health Council meeting, ministers agreed that a new National Obesity Strategy would be developed.

A National Obesity Summit was then held in February which promoted "fresh thinking in terms of our approach to obesity prevention and control".

But Mr Stavreski said all political parties need to put more emphasis on addressing the obesity crisis.




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2 min read
Published 9 May 2019 at 6:34am
By Nick Baker