11 million overweight Australians have hit the top of the fat charts

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Australia is a fat nation.

The most comprehensive global study to date shows obesity rates are climbing worldwide with Australia and New Zealand combined experiencing the largest absolute increase in adult obesity.

Australasia experienced the biggest rise in adult obesity since 1980 (from 16% to 29%) and the single largest increase in adult female obesity (from 17% to 30%) globally

In Australia alone, an estimated 11 million adults are now overweight and 5.2 million of those are obese.

A first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data from 188 countries published in the medical journal Lancet shows Australia’s adult overweight and obesity rate at 63%, up from 49% in 1980.

Among Australian children, almost one-quarter (nearly 24%) are either obese or overweight.

And almost half of all overweight Australian women are obese. Obesity rates for women age 20 or older reached 30%, more than quadruple the obesity rates among girls (7%).

For Australian boys, obesity climbs from 7% in childhood and adolescence to 28% in adulthood.

More than 68% of the country’s men and 56% of women are overweight or obese. This is the second-largest gender gap in overweight/obesity globally, a phenomenon commonly observed in wealthier countries.

On a world scale, Tonga is at number 1 position with an 86% overweight or obese rate, followed by Samoa and Kiribati.

Australia sits at 30th, behind the US at 20th position and New Zealand which ranks 23rd in the world.

This chart shows the gap between the global average on overweight and opbesity and Australia and New Zealand:

Australia and NZ compared to the global obesity and overweight average. Business Insider Chart

An estimated 2.2 million adults in New Zealand are overweight, and of these, 960,000 are obese.

Of the country’s men, 450,000 are obese and 510,000 women are obese. Within the Australasia region, (Australia and New Zealand) New Zealand has the highest rate of obesity in both adults (29%) and children (9%).

Half of all overweight women in New Zealand are obese. Obesity rates for women age 20 or older reached 30%, more than triple the obesity rates among girls (9%). Among boys, obesity climbed from about 10% in childhood and adolescence to almost 28% in adulthood.

Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-to-height ratio, greater than or equal to 25 and lower than 30, while obesity is defined as having a BMI equal to or greater than 30.

The study was conducted by an international consortium of researchers led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

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