The number of Australians classed as obese has grown to 5.8 million, up from 4.9 million in 2014-15, with researchers predicting up to 40% of the population could be living with obesity within 10 years.
The biggest jumps in obesity rates were among those in the class three category of clinically severe obesity (BMI over 40), and in children and teenagers.
A new report, prepared by an alliance of researchers, corporate and advocacy organisations called the Obesity Collective, found the number of children with obesity has risen by 60% to 396,000 over the past seven years.
And over the past three years, the number of obese 16- to 17-year-olds jumped by 57%.
Executive director of the Obesity Collective, Professor Stephen Simpson, said the fact there were an extra 900,000 people living with obesity in just three years was a cause for genuine alarm.
“The notion that 40% of Australians will live with obesity in 10 years is shocking.
“Obesity needs to be a national priority if we’re going to turn this around,” Professor Simpson said.
The study authors hope the report will inform the government’s next National Obesity Strategy.
“It [the strategy] needs concrete, comprehensive action and funding.
“Now is the time to do something significant about an issue that affects everyone,” the authors wrote.
“Each election cycle that we wait to take action, one million more adults will be affected.”