‘Eating is the new smoking’

A REPORT from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found that unhealthy eating is the new smoking with ‘overweight and obesity’ the number one risk factor contributing  the highest cost to Australia’s health system.

The report found obesity was costing the health system $4.3bn versus $3.3bn for smoking.

Of the top 20 most expensive risk factors identified in the report, nine are directly linked to diet, costing Australia $16.2billion.

Chief Executive Officer of Dietitians Australia, Robert Hunt says the federal government needs to take immediate action, citing figures showing 25 per cent of children and 67 per cent of adults are overweight or obese.

“So, whether directly or indirectly, every single Australian is impacted by the issues from our nation’s diet,” he said.

Systemic issues included rising quantities of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods in Australia.

“The federal government has successfully reduced smoking in Australia through the National Tobacco Strategy that implemented plain packaging, health warnings and advertising bans,” Mr Hunt said.

“Not everyone smokes, but everyone must eat so we can’t afford to keep pushing this issue aside.”