Obesity is New Zealand’s leading modifiable risk factor for health loss. A number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke and some cancers, are associated with excess body weight. Health loss can lead to premature death; life expectancy for the extremely obese is shortened by 8 to 10 years.
There has been a dramatic increase in the global prevalence of obesity. In 2012 New Zealand adults ranked third highest out of 15 OECD countries for measures of obesity; in 2010 New Zealand children (aged 5–17 years) ranked third highest out of 40 countries for overweight (including obesity).
This publication explores the increase in obesity over a 36-year period to 2013 and investigates the impact of obesity on different birth cohorts. It reviews the current status of adult and child obesity in New Zealand, looking at the population groups that are affected most.
The report also looks at the prevalence of extreme obesity, where health impacts on individuals are likely to be most pronounced.