A recently published OECD report has revealed that New Zealand is still the third fattest of the organisation’s 35 member countries, with rates of obesity continuing to rise at an alarming rate.
New Zealand has held third in the rankings for a decade now, however since then obesity rates have risen by a further 4.2% - with 30.7% of the Adult population in the country now classified as being obese.
This puts the Kiwis just 1.7% behind the second placed Mexicans, albeit both nations remain some way off the USA where the figures are a staggering 38%.
Speaking to ‘Stuff.NZ’, Bariatric Surgeon, Steven Kelly, highlighted just how big a change he’s noticed in his patients in recent years. The Christchurch based medic said: “Basically, it's bad and it's getting worse. Obesity continues to increase at 0.5 per cent year on year, and it's certainly not slowing up.
"Every week now, I will see a patient who is over 200kg, ten years ago you would be lucky if you saw one 200kg person a year.”
But what are the reasons for this drastic change in a country renowned for having a sports orientated lifestyle? Kelly blames it on a combination of genetic and environmental factors: “For most of history, food scarcity and famines had kept civilisation lean. Now, we live with the same genes but have energy-dense food readily-available anywhere and everybody overeats. The genes load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.”
Others have pointed to the ever expanding fast-food industry as the major reason for the change however, with the average Kiwi now consuming 300 more calories a day than is recommended. The country has therefore heard calls from experts to implement taxes on unhealthy food, and banning junk food advertising that is targeted at children.
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