Let's talk: Is fat the new normal? Research says it sure is

Overweight stomach shot
Our waistlines have substantially increased since last century. Source: Getty

Whether it be the voluptuous 1950s look or the stick-thin ’60s Twiggy-style silhouette, women (and men, although their inspirations have been very different) have had a standard with which to compare themselves.

Sometimes those standards have been blamed for encouraging an unhealthy pursuit of thinness.

But the comparing we’re doing right now is going an totally different, and also unhealthy, direction.

A new Lighter Life survey published exclusively by The Daily Telegraph found that only one in four people who were clinically obese believed they were obese, and that two in three obese people believed they were merely overweight. Half of the people who were overweight thought they were average in weight.

That’s because they’re accustomed to looking at other large people, so don’t recognise that their size is not the healthy norm, researchers at the Heart Foundation and Cancer Council Victoria found.

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Live Lighter campaign manager and dietitian Alison McAleese told The Daily Telegraph that when “you look around you and you see other people of higher weight and you think you look average”.

“If you don’t realise you are above a healthy weight you are unlikely to be motivated to make a change,” she says.

 In today’s society, it’s hard to believe there was actually a time when there were advertisements in magazines on how to gain weight to get curves. It sure worked, though; in 2012 a study found that women’s waistlines had grown 6 inches (15.24cm) since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1952.

Sixty-three per cent of Aussies are now overweight, including almost one third in the obese range. This comes at huge cost to our health system.

According to Lighter Life, a joint marketing campaign between Cancer Council Victoria and the Heart Foundation, obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer account for 12 per cent of the country’s total health care expenditure or $14 billion dollars annually.

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McAlesse says that more Australians need to check their waist circumferences to find out whether they are overweight. For men anything over 94cm is considered overweight. For women, the figure is 80cm. 

There is some good news for Baby Boomers, though. The Lighter Life survey published by the Daily Telegraph found that older Australians are more likely to meet their weekly exercise requirements when compared to their younger counterparts.

Can you see the big change in weight and size since the 1950s? Do you think Aussies are in denial about their weight issues?