Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat (adipose tissue) in relation to lean body mass. There is evidence that obese children and adults are at greater risk of short-term and long-term health consequences.

Obese children are more likely to be obese into adulthood and to have abnormal lipid profiles, impaired glucose tolerance and high blood pressure at a younger age. Obesity in children is also associated with musculoskeletal problems, asthma and psychological problems including body dissatisfaction, poor self esteem, depression and other mental health problems.

For adults, obesity is also associated with a long list of health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, ischaemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, several common cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea and reproductive abnormalities.

The World Health Organization describes the prevalence of obesity as an epidemic.

Obesity in New Zealand

New Zealand has the third highest adult obesity rate in the OECD, and our rates are rising. Almost one in three adult New Zealanders (over 15 years) is obese, and one in ten children.

Childhood obesity spans demographics: ethnicity, gender, and deprivation

Adult obesity rising from 10% in the 70s to about 30% today

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