One in five Australian children are overweight by the time they start school according to a report released recently by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The headline figure has lead to calls from politicians and action groups for a ‘sugar tax’ on unhealthy food and drink, whilst others have blamed the lack of a national strategy to combat obesity for the statistics.
High obesity rates amongst children were far from the only concerning findings in the report however, with young adults in the country now twice as likely as their parents to be obese, and 71% of men now classed as being overweight.
Speaking to Australia’s AP news agency, Jane Martin, of the Obesity Policy Coalition, was scaything in her assesment of the report, which was released just months after Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rejected plans for a ‘sugar tax’.
Martin said: “When you have 71% of men overweight or obese, when you have severe obesity doubling in the last 20 years, that’s a serious problem, and it’s going to take some time to slow down, let alone turn around.
“This issue really needs to be addressed through the food environment because it’s driven mostly by a poor diet. What’s driving poor diets is the promotion of highly processed food, the price of these foods are very cheap and they are always available
“We don’t have a national obesity strategy, and we should be looking at a health levy on sugary drinks in particular.”
Obesity is the second biggest cause of disease in the country (behind smoking) and it seems like only a matter of time before it becomes the number one issue.
Despite facing a troublesome battle with obesity, Australia remains well placed to deal with the issues that arise as a result. The healthcare system in the country is well organised and structured, and plenty of vacancies arise every month for medics looking to move ‘down under’.
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