Only one in four obese people believe they have a weight problem

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Australia’s obesity problem is so bad that people don’t even know they’re overweight. According to The Shape of Australia research from the Heart Foundation and Cancer Council Victoria Live Lighter project, only one in four obese people believe they have a weight problem.

The survey of 2000 Australians aged between 25 and 49 revealed that two in three obese respondents thought were just overweight, while one in 10 thought their weight was normal.

Half of the people surveyed who were overweight thought they were of average weight.

This self-denial is causing huge headaches for health professionals, who say they can’t help to treat the problem if people don’t accept that they have one.

“You look around you and you see other people of higher weight and you think you look average,” said Live Lighter campaign manager and dietitian Alison McAleese.

“If you don’t realise you are above a healthy weight you are unlikely to be motivated to make a change.”

Ms McAleese says even small diet and exercise changes can make a difference, such as cutting back on chocolate, alcohol, ice cream and other obvious fatty foods and foods high in sugar. Also, swapping unhealthy snacks for healthier munchies, such as chopped celery, carrot and other veggies, and exercising more.

Another disturbing revelation was that just one in five people get the required 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. One in seven did not exercise at all. Interestingly, people aged between 45 and 49 were more likely to be getting enough exercise.

Obesity is so common in Australian that we are now one of the fattest nations in the world, with rates that have more than doubled in the past 30 years. It is estimated that, by 2025, 70 per cent of Australia’s population will be obese or overweight, making it one of the most concerning health issues of the future.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    The current round of anti body shaming is probably not assisting. Whilst I dont agree with shaming someone for their body, no matter what shape it is, the media needs to start showing models and people that are considered in the normal weight range rather than super slim models. Why do i say that? Because many younger people and older ones still view these images as what is normal and acceptable. So many people are confused these days because of the overwhelming amount of information available at their finger tips, they just give up and get on with it. Maybe not posting articles that contradict each other all the time would be a starting point.

    • 0

      I agree Ted Wards. The current fad of ‘normalising’ morbid obesity is truly shocking. None of the professionals people and their children come into contact with (teachers, doctors, nurses etc) are ever putting it on the line and saying someone or their child is plain fat! And if one should be brave enough it is reported on social media and the professional hounded almost out of their job. This is quite simply wrong. You have dietitians bending over backwards to defend sugar and other outdated nutritional dogma that has contributed to the obesity crisis. Unless the messaging is clear, simple and direct, too many people will ignore what they see everyday in the mirror. A few hurt feelings and bit of embarrassment are small prices to pay for a healthy life.

    • 0

      Well said Ted and KSS. What should be normalised is normal body-shapes – neither obese nor unusually slim. Having said that, it should be acknowledged that there is a wide variety of metabolisms that affect body-shape. I know of people with endocrine problems who cannot help but be obese; and of others whose metabolisms make it very difficult for them to burn off fat.

    • 0

      It’s a change in eating habits as well. When I was growing up fast food outlets were virtually unknown and, in any case, I would not have been allowed to eat in the street. Nowadays there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to meals, people wander in and out of fast food outlets and seem to eat all day.

    • 0

      I noticed the difference when i was in France earlier this year. It was hard to believe that we saw only 1 overweight person in 3 months…and he was an American.
      Same deal in Germany.
      Australians are become like Americans. Fat. Worse than that is that the media often engages in a feel good campaign and we have become a nation where telling it like it is has been outlawed.
      As I keep saying about my fellow countrymen who create their own health conditions, they should pay because they inflict themselves with their ailments. Another story leon!

  2. 0

    I used to be very obese. I am 6’6″ = 198cm tall, but peaked weightwise at 159kg. I lost weight by giving up eating bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. My weight is now around 106kg (but I’d like to lose a bit more fat from around my gut).

    Basically, to maintain a constant weight, people’s calorie intake should match the amount they burn calories. Obesity occurs when the former exceeds the latter – e.g. overeating relative to amount of exercise. Then there’s the issue of the foods themselves: excessive fat is to be avoided.

  3. 0

    Obese people are disgusting
    Its a reflection of ones own personality and lifestyle.
    I avoid these people as I don’t to be associated with such negativity

    • 0

      This is an appalling comment. I’d prefer to be fat (I am not) than possess such a cruel, judgemental personality that makes me write the vicious criticisms you have made.

    • 0

      Yes, Raphael, you’d be appalled if you read your own statement with ‘obese’ changed to ‘old’. Everyone has the right to expect to be treated with politeness.

  4. 0

    I feel really sad when I look at all the adverts for women’s wear and underwear on fat models.

    While we do not need the appallingly skinny models we see in ads. giving overweight people hang-ups about themselves, it is plainly stupid to normalise obesity.

    I have noticed that many garments which are clearly very large indeed, are marked down in size to help with deceiving buyers into believing they are not that large after all. Further some shops have trick mirrors in their changing rooms. These elongate the figure to make you look shapelier than you are!



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