18 Dec 2018

The imperative to act on obesity

Source: OECD 2015. How we compare: Australia's obesity levels
The 10 OECD nations with the most overweight and obese people 

by Paul Zimmet
Dana McCauley makes a very important contribution with her analysis of the failure the Federal and State governments to act decisively on obesity ("While politicians refuse to act, Australia becomes more overweight", The Age,18/12/2019) despite numerous reports and strategies produced over the last few decades.

Concerted action is long overdue - the time to start for a positive impact on Australia’s current health was 20 years ago. In 2009, the Preventative Health Task Force of which I was a member, produced the report “Australia: The Healthiest Country by 2020”.


The report outlined for the first time an evidence-based, comprehensive, and cost-efficient integrated strategy to address obesity for Australia. The 2020 target was very unlikely to be met without immediate action then. Since then, it has not been followed to any extent. We don’t need a new report. Funds should be directed to federal and community-based programmes to stem one of Australia’s most serious public health problems. Obesity is driving escalating epidemics of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, sleep apnea, some cancers and liver disease.

Dana McCauley’s call for action is timely given the health, societal, and economic burden to Australia and individuals. Yes, it is time for concerted action from Canberra and COAG, and less talk and bureaucracy.

About the author:
Professor Paul Zimmet AO MD PhD FRACP FRCP FTSE Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa (Monash), Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa (Tel Aviv), Honoris Causa Doctoris (Complutense University, Madrid), Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa (Adelaide) was nominated 2018 VIC Senior Australian of the Year. He is Professor of Diabetes at Monash University, Senior Principal Research Fellow, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Honorary President, International Diabetes Federation.

Contact information:
T +61 (0)3 99030254  M +61 439 651 502
Email paul.zimmet@monash.edu
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