Jacquie McCalman, 46, Lismore.
Jacquie McCalman, 46, Lismore.

Obesity: We cant weight

By Jamie Brown

MORE than half of us are overweight, according to the latest health service figures, and the numbers keep expanding.

We may be living longer, have more money and a so-called better lifestyle, but without our fitness we are compromising all the gains made by this generation.

There are only a few ways to slim down for sure, and all of them involve commitment, according to Uta Dietrich, of the North Coast Area Health Service.

That doesn't stop the spruikers from trying to tell us different. From diet pills to slimming milkshakes, there is an industry out there aimed at overweight Australians.

Now a Texas university is applying for a patent to protect its revolutionary 'hibernation diet'. Sound simple, just sleep off your excess weight just like a bear during winter.

The Australian General Practice Network is proposing something more down to earth: A $170 subsidy to encourage the obese to attend a weight-loss program.

An Adelaide hospital is less forgiving. Fat people, along with smokers, will not be allowed to have easy weight loss surgery like liposuction or body contouring.

Why all this energy aimed at fat people?

Ms Dietrich points out that our current obesity epidemic is costing people their quality of life.

As a result of excessive weight there has been a decrease in physical activity and a corresponding increase in high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and heart disease.

"We are starting to see early orthopaedic problems in overweight school children," she said.

"Their feet and knees are not coping with the extra weight," she said. "We are seeing the rate of type two diabetes increasing in children. We used to only see this disease in older people with weight problems."

Even more disturbing is the increase in fatty liver disease in overweight and obese children.

"We are seeing teenagers with livers like alcoholics," Ms Dietrich said. "If this trend continues we will see people in their early 20s requiring liver transplants.

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