Tightening the belt on the fight against obesity

  • Reducing the burden of preventable disease and tackling our growing obesity epidemic are urgent, escalating public health problems
  • WA Obesity Collaborative Summit will focus on five-year plan for early intervention and weight management
  • McGowan Government leads efforts to secure agreement to develop a National Obesity Strategy

Western Australians who struggle with weight management and obesity will benefit as a result of today’s Obesity Collaborative Summit.

The summit, a collaborative partnership between the Department of Health, WA Primary Health Alliance and the Health Consumers Council, is the first of its kind in Western Australia. It will bring together consumers and stakeholders from the health and community sector to help develop a five-year action plan to support people with early intervention and weight management.

It will also identify what improvements are needed to provide a clear, streamlined journey through the health system for people who want advice and support to manage their weight.

Being overweight and obese are among the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, so this is an urgent and escalating public health problem.

Obesity related inpatient costs to the Western Australia public health system place a huge burden on the service and WA taxpayers. In 2011 they were $241 million. At current rates, obesity related inpatient costs are predicted to increase 102.6 per cent to $488 million by 2021.

The Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2017 report found approximately one-third of adults (32.2 per cent) were obese and approximately one in 13 people in WA (7.4 per cent) have diabetes.

At the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council meeting in Adelaide, the Commonwealth, States and Territories agreed to a proposal put forward by Health Minister Roger Cook for a national approach to curb the growing obesity epidemic. A similar proposal was put forward by the Commonwealth at the meeting and the proposals were jointly considered.

The McGowan Government’s proposal for a National Obesity Strategy targets the growing issue of preventable disease, disability and death due to being overweight and obese.

Today’s summit in Perth follows the Preventive Health Summit in March this year, and the Sustainable Health Review (SHR) Interim Report, which identified obesity prevention as a priority. The SHR Final Report is due before the end of the year.

As noted by Health Minister Roger Cook:

“Chronic disease caused by excess weight ruins lives; it places a burden on our public health system and ultimately on WA taxpayers. In Western Australia alone, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, as are nearly a quarter of children aged five to 15 years.

“Clearly, something needs to be done, and in the past year the McGowan Government has been a strong supporter of preventive health initiatives.

“Events such as today’s summit are positive proof that we are working to tackle the issue of obesity and I look forward to hearing the actions generated.

“The McGowan Government is concerned that Australia lacks a comprehensive, ongoing strategy to fight obesity, so it’s pleasing the recent COAG Health Council meeting agreed with WA and adopted a proposal to develop a National Obesity Strategy.

“A national strategy will set an over-arching policy agenda for obesity prevention and early intervention according to best practice, and ensure a consistent, multi-strategic national approach is adopted.

“The McGowan Government is committed to working with the WA Primary Health Alliance, Health Consumers Council and other stakeholders fight the State’s obesity problem.”

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