Every taxpayer funds an obese person… Why aren’t we doing more to fix it? 173



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Last week a shocking announcement was made at a health conference: obesity has taken over tobacco smoking as the leading cause of cancer in the western world. It is the root cause of one in five cancers and is becoming the biggest strain on the Australian healthcare system. Who’s paying for this strain? Every taxpayer. The obesity epidemic is costing us cheaper healthcare, larger pensions and better education for our grandkids. So why aren’t we doing more about it?

Jennifer Ligibel from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University said, “The average weight of our citizens is increasing dramatically. We’ve really got a critical mass of evidence where we see this relationship: the heavier people are more at risk.

“I think people are aware that being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes but not that it increases the risk of cancer and their risk of dying from cancer. It’s the case with breast cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of the colon and all the gynaecological cancers”.

The thing is that not only does this obesity epidemic causes indirect pressure like causing other problems including cancer, the struggle to manage obese people in our healthcare is causing significant problems.

In hospitals, more and more services and custom designed facilities are needed. These include modifications to chairs, beds, room sizes, rehabilitation equipment, hoists, bathroom aids as well as increasing specialist services from doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and more.

For obese people still living at home with community assistance, they’re still costing a lot. Community care for the average obese patient costs more than $43,000 a year, compared to around $7,500 for a non-obese patient.

In Bendigo, one of the most obese regions in Australia, they’re upgrading their hospital. The new $360 million facility opening in late 2016 shows just a small example of what lies ahead of healthcare if things don’t change soon. It will house 27 custom-designed “bariatric” rooms, exclusively to be used by obese patients. Every ward will house one or two such rooms.

Craig Sinclair, head of the Cancer Council Victoria’s prevention division, and spokesman for the Obesity Policy Coalition, said the problem could not be tackled if it was viewed as merely a “lifestyle choice”.

He said disadvantage and a lack of education were often drivers, as were environmental factors such as a lack of access to fruit and vegetables, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“We also need to look at menu labelling for fast food outlets, or taxation to make junk food more expensive. It could be creating physical environments that encourage more physical activity safely such as bicycle lanes, and making it safe for kids to walk to school”.

Bendigo Health executives estimate they could save $45 million and 25,000 hospital bed days a year if healthy eating and physical exercise programs such as the Cancer Council’s Live Lighter campaign were adopted widely throughout the region.

So when the impacts of obesity are becoming bigger and more significant, why aren’t we doing more to stop them? Not on a government level, but on a personal level?

Imagine if every Australian person made a commitment to walk for 30 minutes outdoors, four times a week. Imagine if every Australian person made a commitment to eat one more piece of fruit a day and one more serve of vegetables every day? Imagine if every Australian made the commitment to have three alcohol free nights a week? Imagine if every Australian smoker made the commitment to have one less cigarette every day?

They are the smallest changes, we wouldn’t really feel the impact of them. But they would mean such big things for our health, our health system, our taxpayer dollar and the future of Australia.

Do you feel that Australians need to take obesity more seriously? What is one thing you can commit to, to make the world a better place? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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  1. The message isn’t getting through as there is enough media attention on this. People don;t seem to care that what they are eating is unhealthy.

  2. There’s no solution, obesity is a mind set, people just don’t care anymore. Once if someone was over weight they stood out and were mocked, now every third person is so they just don’t care.

    5 REPLY
    • That’s a broad statement Julie, I know a lot of overweight people and they all wish they weren’t and most have tried and tried, just like smokers. Most people want to be healthy, some just aren’t as good at it as others.

    • I agree with that also. My mothers death certificate reads died of morbid obesity. If you don’t want to over eat don’t, seek psychological counselling. They suffer terribly and my heart goes out to them however doing nothing is doing nothing.

    • I like this line from you Fran “Most people want to be healthy, some just aren’t as good at it as other”

  3. Forget the obese what about the smoker that kills more

    3 REPLY
    • That’s what the article is about. Obesity has taken over from tobacco as the leading cause of cancer.

    • Obese pigs scoff world food…smokers puff on weeds..and usually eat less.
      I have never smoked so don’t you lot have bad mind trip ‘trolling’ at those that haven’t smoked.

  4. You never going to force people to march to the same tune, we are all individuals, we have individual wants and needs, people still have free choice about what they want to eat and they choose their own lifestyle to suit them. I think if your healthy and happy that is what is important in life

  5. Gloves have to come right off and call it as it is especially doctors who need to refer to these humans as FAT and set a plan for them to get it right off— it is mostly what goes in your mouth and exercise —– why do you think Australia has one of the highest artificial limb replacement — knees and hips can’t support these massive weights people are carrying.

    17 REPLY
    • I think it might be a bit more involved that that, my son has has 2 knee replacements, the first he was only 32 years old, he is very fit, I doubt there is an ounce of fat on him

    • Sorry leanna i was looking at the big part of the obese Australia and not the odd individual who may have other health issues requiring limb replacements

    • Alan, I am having a hip replacement this week. I am not overly fat, I could lose five kilos but when I first was told I needed a hip replacement, I weighed only 62kgs. I put on weight because I can’t exercise as much and have had to wait over three years for this op. I have had osteo arthritis for ten years, so you need to keep your opinions to yourself if you are going to be rude and disrespectful to all of those needing this operation or any other for whatever reason. I swear some of you people are ruining this site by using it to do nothing but pick and pull people apart, for you plain nastiness. This site which was started for very good reasons and is now being shot in the foot by some of those using it. You make me sick!

    • I have seen Frans picture on the article about her being the Red Baron for a day 🙂 she is not at all fat

    • Thank you Janet. It’s not that, but some of the people on here just use this site to be rude and hurtful. If they were working, it would be called bullying. Regardless of why people need these operations, there is no need to carry on this way. I am sure there are those who smoke and get on this site. It costs the health department just as much to help them, if not more, I am sure it is the same with drinkers. All these things are hard to stop, including over eating, so people need to be mindful of what they say and people like Alan, Joe and that idiot Ben Watts need to take a hike. They are pure and simple troublemaking bullies. Sorry folks.

    • Alan I have fibromyalgia and post polio syndrome and yes I’m obese but I do the best I can u need to think before u speak illness can play a major part

    • I must be mistaken that Australia is one of the most obese countries on the planet— people just live in denial as they chew down another high calorie hamburger or soft drink— just check out a Coles or woolies supermarket which is 80% full of sugar and fat full products—- it’s not me it’s them !!!!

    • wake up, you don’t know any of us, so how do you know our lifestyle, I don’t drink fizzy drink and never have I don’t eat take away and to cap it all off I am not overweight, but so what if I was or anyone here is?, you can’t live our lives for us as much as you would like too

    • We are all different and the writer made a generalisation about obesity, there are a lot of reasons for it and many are due to other illnesses that can start people on the way to obesity. And not just overeating, or eating the wrong good, I have put on weight because of osteoarthritis in my knees and ankles and I find the running and jogging are not able to be done , so I walk now , but in the cold weather the pain can put a stop to some exercise.

    • Alan you are mistaken and ignorant and should keep your stupid mouth shut,as you have no idea of the struggles of people or even care.

    • You can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink—- if you appear naked before a doctor what would she / he say—- correct weight,you should lose a bit or my god you are heading for an early grave —– 2 people can die at 80 where one had great health up to the event and the other had 20 of pain and discomfort bought about their own bad habits.

    • Alan Hamilton you are nothing but a biggot keep your opinions to yourself you have nothing constructive to offer this discussion you borrow minded person.

    • I thought this was an over 60’s site not an over a 90’s site– I will move on to greener pastures !!!!

  6. Why can’t people be just allowed to live their own lives? No I am not overweight, but who knows what may happen in the future and I will take it as it comes

    1 REPLY
    • People are permitted to live their own lives …Why should we the taxpayer pick up the medical costs when people have scant regard for the consequences of poor lifestyle choices. We were born dirt poor…grew our own vegetables and fruit trees …stop the excuses ! Take control!

  7. Ever thought that they have worked possibly all their lives & paid their taxes which has gone towards smokers ailments alcohol abusers drug abusers!!!! Stop categorising fellow man!!!

    2 REPLY
    • So right Margaret and he who is without sin should cast the first stone!!!!!!!!!!! I’d like to meet the perfect person on this site.

  8. Well if obese people don’t take this seriously, then their lives will become a nightmare. I see obese people drinking litres of sugary drinks, eating so much starch and fast food and hardly any vegetables. In Sweden there is only 14% of obesity. That is because they live on a low carb and high fat diet

    3 REPLY
    • You also see super thin people eating too much sugar, fat or salty food. Smoking, taking drugs, not exercising, drinking too much. Time we supported people and stopped looking to ‘blame’ people all the time.

    • You don’t have to be fat to have these health issues. Skinny people have strokes and heart attacks too.Cut out processed food and eat natural butter and animal fats instead of margarine and processed oils. I have and my health is restored and have lost 16kg.

  9. Why don’t we start charging more for unhealthy food and drinks and less for healthy food to encourage people to eat better for less

    2 REPLY
  10. Well, I do eat healthy but I am still overweight.
    We don’t even have any of the popular take away places in our town. The best we have is two local fish and chip shops and a local pizza shop.
    Our nearest Maccas or KFC or Red Rooster or Hungry Jacks or Pizza Hut is a 110klm round trip.
    Yet we still have a lot of obese people in our town.

    1 REPLY

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