A recent report released by the WA Department of Health found that if Western Australian population levels of overweight and obesity continue to climb at current levels, costs to the WA health system will increase by 80 per cent in the decade between 2016 and 2026, from $338.7 million to $610.1 million.
Gaining excess body mass can lead to preventable illnesses and premature death. The accumulation of fat mass in an individual not only increases their risk of a range of chronic diseases*, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, but it also causes significant personal, health care, and societal costs.
An overweight and unhealthy population has significant societal costs to Western Australia – both in increased health care/hospitalisation costs and increased mortality rates**. This does not include or factor in other costs to individuals, communities, and the WA economy.
*In 2016, 70.4% of all hospitalisations were attributable to chronic conditions caused by excess body mass.
**In 2015, 11.2% of deaths were from diabetes mellitus attributable to excess body mass.
The report concludes that substantial cost savings could be achieved if the WA population’s prevalence of overweight and obesity were to stabilise or reduce.