The Council of Australian Governments’ Reform Council revealed on Friday (May 24) that the number of obese and overweight Australians has risen by two per cent in the last four years.
This statistic has not come as a surprise to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), who believe our "toxic" food environment is to blame.
"Only seven in 20 Australian adults are in the healthy weight range", says PHAA president Heather Yeatman.
She said that diet and physical activity are the "key determinants" of a person's weight, but that the current Australian way of life is making it difficult to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
"This is very worrying," claims Ms Yeatman.
"Many people will experience poorer health and well-being as a result of their added weight – and health care expenditure will continue to spiral upwards."
According to Obesity Australia, it has been predicted that 30 per cent of the population will be obese by 2020.
Being overweight doesn't only affect your physical health; it also has an impact on your mental wellbeing.
Problems with depression and cognitive ability have also been linked to obesity. That means your employees' productivity and success at work could be affected by being overweight.
It has also been demonstrated that Australians suffering from obesity take on average ten more sick days every year than their healthier co-workers.
"Individuals make choices from what is available – and healthy foods are often more expensive, less available and less accessible to many in our communities," says Ms Yeatman.
That is why steps need to be taken to improve the food system, such as stopping the promotion of unhealthy foods at sporting events and supporting a relationship between farmers and local retailers so that healthy foods are more readily available and reasonably priced.
MBF chief medical officer, Dr Christine Bennett, is worried that our complacent attitude towards obesity is also a culprit in this epidemic.
She says that we tend to think of obesity as the norm now, with society making adjustments "for an overweight world including increasing clothing sizes and making airline seats bigger to accommodate larger bodies".
This attitude is making people "lose sight" of the life-threatening health conditions that are associated with being overweight, such as diabetes and heart disease.
You can support the health and wellbeing of your employees by organising business health insurance for your company.