Overweight and obesity now accounts for 7% of the burden of disease in Australia, second only to smoking, and the most disadvantaged in society are the worst affected, according to a new report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare.
The AIHW report Impact of Overweight and Obesity as a Risk Factor for Chronic Conditions linked cardiovascular conditions (38%), cancers (19% — breast being the leading type), diabetes (17%), osteoarthritis (12%), chronic kidney disease (5.1%), dementia, asthma, gallbladder disease, gout and back pain to Australia’s burgeoning weight problem.
At 7%, obesity and overweight was second only to smoking (9%) in terms of health burden. 63% of the burden was fatal and 84% was experienced by those between the ages of 45-84.
Nearly 2 in 3 adults and 1 in 4 children were now considered overweight or obese, the report said, with around half of the burden for some conditions (diabetes, osteoarthritis, uterine cancer, hypertensive heart disease) attributable to body mass.
Those from the lowest socioeconomic group had an overweight and obesity burden 2.3x higher than those in the most affluent group, and men were worse affected (7.3% of total disease burden) than women (6.6%). Weight was more likely to be an issue in regional areas as opposed to the cities, and for children in single-parent families or from low socioeconomic groups.
— AIHW (@aihw) April 12, 2017
Importantly, the AIHW estimated that future burden for 2020 could be decreased by as much as 14% were the at-risk population to decrease their BMI by 1 and maintain this weight loss. Even plateauing at current trends of weight gain would result in a 6% fall in the burden than would otherwise be the case.