Australian Obesity Report

Posted: November 28th, 2013












Australian Obesity Report






Australian Obesity Report


In National Health Priority Areas, this essay will focus on major health issue that is encumbering a fair share of the global population, especially in Australia; obesity (HAWLEY, 2008, p.5). In medical terms, obesity is a condition that explains the accumulation of excess body fats to an extent of having serious problems in an individual’s health. The body mass index (BMI) is a scale used to explain more on obesity (HAWLEY, 2008, p.8). This scale further evaluates the distribution of body fats in terms of the waist hip ratio in relation to risks involving cardiovascular problems. The body mass index scale is more of a connection between percentage body fat and the total body fat. At individual levels, combining excess energy from food intake along with inadequate or lack of sufficient physical exercise is deemed as the most explainable course of obesity. This mainly applies to the majority cases. For the remaining few, their cases are explained through matters regarding psychiatric illnesses, genetics and several medical reasons. In contrast, at societal levels, the rates of increasing obesity is rampant due to a number of reasons; in regard to poor attention to proper diets, high reliance on vehicles, as well as mechanized manufacturing

The effects of obesity on people are adverse. It is among the leading causes of global mortality, though it is preventable. In Europe alone obesity has been touted as the cause of deaths in excess of one million individuals in a calendar year. Averagely, obesity plays a major role in reducing the life expectancy to around six or seven years (BRADLEY, 2009, p. 6). Moreover, obesity increases the chances of acquiring problems in physical and mental conditions. These conditions in terms of morbidity are disorders involving; diabetes, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers. These complications may be either directly caused by obesity or related. In Australia, the issue of obesity has been described as an epidemic with constant increase in frequency. The Australian Medical Journal found that the obesity cases in Australia have more than doubled in the last two decades. Obesity has become more common than the other known infectious diseases, with its effects being felt in both the long and short term (BRADLEY, 2009, p. 14).


            Graph 1:  HAWLEY J.A., & DUNSTAN D.W. (2008). Overweight and obesity in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia. 188

Impact of Obesity on General Population

In accordance with the Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia (BoD), the high body mass rates in the year 2003 were responsible for seven percent of the total burden of disease and injury, third only to tobacco and high blood pressure respectively. Approximately, high body mass was the cause of fifty five percent of the diabetes associated burdens, and twenty percent of cardiovascular diseases (BRADLEY, 2009, p. 22). On other wider ranges of conditions, obesity is also associated with problems related to back, mental health, reproduction and as well as sleep apnoea. In conjunction with physical inactivity, obesity is responsible for approximately sixty percent for type 2 diabetes burden. Consequently, combining the effects of obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, physical inactivity, and high cholesterol is the responsible factor for more than fifty per cent of cardiovascular disease burdens. The burden of conditions emanating from obesity is gradually closing in on that related to tobacco. Smoking rates are notably declining and high body mass conditions will most certainly rise to an all time high, taking the position of the leading modifiable burden cause.

The most current estimates of concerning the impact of obesity in Australia declare that obesity is causing more than a quarter of osteoarthritis as well as type 2 diabetes. Around a fifth of cardiovascular diseases, colorectal, uterine, kidney and breast cancers, result from the same health condition. Health problems related to high body mass impose economic burdens on the concerned individuals, immediate family and as well as the community at large (BRADLEY, 2009, p. 28). Society as a whole bears the entire economic blow. It has been stated that the overall expenses related to obesity approximately sum up to sixty billion dollars. This is in the Australian society alone and in the year 2008. The total direct financial expenses in the Australian society as well as the government, was approximated to amount to eight billion dollars in the year 2008. Regarding these expenses, the state government caters for five percent, and Australian government a third of the total. This estimate includes direct financial expenses to health system in Australia (2 billion dollars), as well as productivity expenses (3.6 billion dollars); including both short term and long term impacts on employment. In the year 2001, obesity was considered responsible for the loss of over five million days in workplaces in Australia. To attest for this statistic, obese workers are usually absent from their work places due to the ill health disorders they undergo. This was of great difference as compared to non obese individuals in Australia. When assessing the economic implications of Australia’s workforce, relevant authorities will often consider absenteeism.

On a global scale, obesity has a poses a much greater impact on morbidity as compared to mortality. Disability hailing from high body mass related cardiovascular diseases have significantly risen to recognizable levels, especially in industrialized nations. Patients in these nations have an advantage of surviving cardiovascular diseases as compared to those living in non industrialized nations (BRADLEY, 2009, p. 31). Disability due to type 2 diabetes emanating from high body mass has significantly risen in industrialized countries. The main reason behind this statistic is that there is an insufficient supply of insulin in these countries. Consequently, the health conditions of people in these countries display a rise in disabling neuropathy, arteriosclerosis, nephropathy, and as well as retinopathy. Study forecasts declare that the increasing prevalence in high body mass related health conditions will ultimately lead to affected individuals suffering morbidity and disability, suffering from these conditions for a relatively longer period.

Impact of Obesity on Particular Groups

In terms of specified groups, obesity is mainly affects two major groups; children and adults. I will first discuss childhood obesity.  Overweight problems in childhood have skyrocketed in the recent past to reach epidemic proportions, both nationally and globally. Between the period of 1970 and 2004, overweight cases have drastically prevailed among school children and adolescents (STEWART, 2011, p.7).


Graph 2 Source: STEWART, L. (2011). Childhood obesity. Medicine. 76

High body mass during childhood has lead to many adverse effects including depression, emotional trauma, discrimination, stigmatization, and other psychological effects. Health problems include heart attacks, left ventricular hypertrophy, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, sleeping disorders, type 2 diabetes as well as liver disease. Moreover, adults who had high body mass in childhood bear high risks of developing diabetes, heart attacks, coronary heart disease, and metabolic syndrome as compared to those who were not obese in their childhood (STEWART, 2011, p.14).

The health consequences emanating from high body mass in childhood contribute greatly to the burden of costs in health care. The annual expenditures attributed to obesity were approximated to amount to seventy five billion dollars in the year 2003. Discharges in the hospital for patients aging 5 to 18 years with obesity related conditions skyrocketed threefold. This value rose from thirty five million to a hundred and twenty million, from the year 1979 to the year 1999 (STEWART, 2011, p.21).  Hospital charges for comorbidities related to high body mass that required hospitalization posted a higher number than those were not obesity-related. As a result of the prevalence of childhood obesity as a major health problem has caught the attention of numerous health organizations and institutions, calling for a collective effort to deal with the situation from all multiple fronts. To advise the relevant health organizations on the necessary research areas to advance knowledge concerning measures to effectively prevent obesity and treatment in childhood, the organizations stationed a meeting to discuss this matter.

The prevention group focused on opportunities on research to prevent and reduces excessive body weight in both children and adolescents. The panel highlighted on research methods to treat high body mass in children. Topics of discussion on this matter included the activities on behavior and interventions on lifestyle for childhood and adolescent obesity treatment and prevention; surgical and pharmacologic treatment of severe cases of obesity in the youth.

In the other group, during the past half centaury, the proportion of adults with problems and conditions associated with high body mass has more than doubled. In this current time, estimates declare that seven per cent of the world’s population is well over 65 years. By the year 2000, the prevalence of high body mass had significantly risen up to twenty five per cent. Many of adulthood cases in obesity can be linked back to their childhood (STEWART, 2011, p.13). Moreover, smoking rates in adulthood have greatly plummeted. In accordance with facts from National Institutes of Health (NIH), on average adults who stop smoking considerably gain large amounts of weight. This is to say thirty pounds or even more. The habit of smoking greatly reduces ones appetite, thus when they quit, excessive ingestion of food becomes prevalent.

In my local community, obesity in childhood is the most prevalent. Consequently, childhood obesity has been proven to lead to numerous cases of adverse conditions and illnesses that can even be extended to adulthood later on life. In assessing the guidelines to follow on obesity interventions, I had to carefully consider the duration and magnitude of the subject’s primary outcomes. Numerous obesity intervention methods have proven to yield significant health gain. This compelling evidence on obesity interventions successfully yields significant weight loss for a brighter lifestyle. One intervention in obesity will entail physical exercises .Physical exercise is an activity involving the usage of one or more muscle groups in the body to raise the heart rate. Obesity involves ingesting more calories than one can burn (DOLINSKY, 2011, p. 13). Physical exercise serves as a model of balancing the energy in the body, particularly essential in pathogenesis process and treatment of obesity. Physical activity and exercise are very fundamental in the maintenance of long term body weight loss. It is very beneficial in maintaining lean body mass.

As to how this chosen intervention method would be best piloted to ascertain impact in the target population, it would involve educating the children and adolescents on the adverse effects that are associated with obesity. Their knowledge on these facts would greatly push them to uphold the methods of physical exercises and activities, in order to combat high body mass.

Obese people who physically exercise not only report mental differences in their overall mood, but also experience lower chances of contracting diseases associated with obesity. Physical exercise has been proved to be of great value in health for both obese individuals, as well as that are overweight (DOLINSKY, 2011, p. 13).


The large global population that is considered to be obese and the adverse health risks that accompany it call for a better understanding concerning its causes, and regarding its treatment as crucial. Obesity is proving to be a major issue challenging the people around us. These people should not be shunned or discriminated, but accepted as our very own. It is through dieting together with exercise that people in obesity can find solace to live normal lives. Moreover, it is important to improve the quality of the diet taken in order to reduce the consumption of foods dense in energy as well as those rich in fats and sugars. Relevant authorities in the world have relevantly recognized the adverse social and physical effects of obesity and are therefore touting for global awareness. With relevant and effective measures, the prevalence of obesity in both children and adults is going to reduced for a better global future.




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