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Obesity: Prevention better than Treatment

Obesity: Prevention better than Treatment
October 2, 2008

Australia needs to introduce obesity prevention initiatives rather treatment, according to Professor Kerry Mummery of CQUniversity.

Speaking at a public hearing as part of The Inquiry into Obesity in Australia, Professor Mummery stated "more resources are required across a range of health, education and recreation groups to strengthen the preventive, rather than the treatment, approach to this problem."

The CQUniversity Professor of Physical Activity and Population Health says Australia should be looking at prevention approaches rather than treatment when it comes to obesity, acknowledging that the burden that obesity is currently placing on individuals and on the health care system.

At the Brisbane public hearing into the inquiry that is investigating the long-term implications of obesity on the health system, Doctor Linda Selvey from Queensland Health suggested that Medicare rebates should be made available for accredited weight control programs. As Dr Selvey explained, "by recognising obesity as a chronic condition in its own right, rather than just a risk factor for chronic conditions, then that potentially opens up a number of existing Medicare items for people with chronic diseases."

Referring to Central Queensland statistics (see below), Professor Mummery added "obesity is a tremendous problem in all age groups and both genders. Medicare rebates for accredited weight control programs are only a small step in the fight against obesity."

Central Queensland statistics

Overall: 23.7% obese - 61.9% overweight or obese
Gender: Males - 24.9% obese, Females - 22.4% obese
18-34 - 21.7% obese
35-44 - 22.6% obese
45-54 - 22.9% obese
55+ - 22.9% obese

(Source: 2007 Central Queensland Social Survey, Population Research Laboratory, CQUniversity)

Costs of obesity. Estimated at $3.767 billion in Australia in 2005 (Source: 2006, The economic costs of obesity, Access Economics Pty Limited)

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