Scary statistics

Scary statistics

I remember a government ad on carbon emissions that said mothers were the worst offenders domestically.


Similarly when you read the statistics from the Preventative Health Taskforces’ Technical Paper 1: Obesity in Australia: a need for urgent action, I can imagine if I were obese, feeling a little affronted. But I guess if you don’t take it personally, the Aussie stats are enlightening if not gob-smacking.

Here they are:

  • The top 3 causes of preventable disease is tobacco (7.8%), high blood pressure (7.6%) and obesity (7.5%). I actually heard an academic on the ABC claim obesity has just over taken tobacco.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 cases of Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis is directly caused by being obese.
  • 1 in 5 cardiovascular disease, colorectal, breast, uterine and kidney cancers are caused directly by being obese.

Consequently, in 2008:

  • 242,033 Australians had type 2 diabetes as a result of being obese
  • 644,843 had CVD
  • 422,274 had osteoarthritis
  • 30,127 had colorectal, breast, uterine or kidney cancer

And there’s more:

Obesity was linked to 4 million sick days in 2001.

Estimates put the overall cost of obesity to governments and society at $50.38 billion in 2008. It is important to understand that 39% of this money (Government) could be spent elsewhere – on education, defence, the environment or even the arts!

We either need to accept the increasing obesity rates over time (that is the trend) and prepare for an even more obese Australian society or find a way to reduce obesity. No current strategy apart from bariatric surgery has made a significant impact on reducing obesity.

The success rate of best practice weight loss (lifestyle change + dieting +counseling) is 1-3% for obese individuals. This is measured as weight lost and maintained over 3-5 years. That statistic alone was one of the motivators for the launch of the HAES (health at any size) movement which promotes the acceptance of obesity.