Obesity Causes & Prevalence – Hab Shifa

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Obesity Causes & Prevalence

Obesity is becoming more common in Australian with 63.4% of adults considered to be either overweight or obese in 2014-15, 62.8% in 2011-12 and 56.3% in 19951.  The World health organisation defines obesity in adults as a BMI greater than 29, whilst being overweight is defined as a BMI greater than 242.

This means that more than half of adult Australians weigh up to 20% more than their ideal weight and are at risk of type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and a host of other chronic conditions3.  Unfortunately, with one in four children overweight or obese in Australia, we are clearly passing on our overweight habits to the next generation1.

To put this problem into monetary terms, in 2004-5, it was estimated that the direct costs of overweight and obesity in Australia was $21 billion, with overweight and obese Australians receiving a further $35.6 billion in government subsidies4. Obesity is such a problem in Australia that the Australian Medical Association has stated that it is overtaking smoking as the main preventable cause of death5.

With the overwhelming amount of evidence for obesity in Australia, it is essential that we understand its causes and prevent this problem becoming even greater in the future.


According to the Dieticians Association of Australia6, Australians are overweight or obese because we eat more than we need, consume high calorie foods, yo-yo diet, don’t exercise enough and in some cases, because of our genetics. Obesity is such a problem in Australia that the National Health and Medical Research Council have published Clinical Practice Guidelines7 to manage this growing problem.

The Department of Health have found that whilst many of us understand how to eat properly, being time poor is a major cause of poor dietary habits8. They also found that low socioeconomic status and a prevalence of fast food outlets in the area are also causes for concern, negatively affecting healthy eating habits.


All references accessed on 20/3/18

  1. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001.
  2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/
  3. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/impact-of-overweight-and-obesity-as-a-risk-factor-for-chronic-conditions/contents/table-of-contents.
  4. https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/192_05_010310/col10841_fm.pdf.
  5. https://ama.com.au/position-statement/obesity-2016.
  6. https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/medical/the-facts-on-overweight-obesity-in-australia-link-to-ahww/
  7. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n57
  8. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/womens-health-policy-toc~womens-health-policy-experiences~womens-health-policy-experiences-lifestylerisk~womens-health-policy-experiences-lifestylerisk-eating.