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Almost half of less-educated Australians will be obese by 2025, a new study predicts.

The research, which looked at educational inequalities and the prevalence of obesity, showed the percentage of obese people with degrees, diplomas and secondary education would double between 2000 - the start of the study - and 2025.

The prevalence of obesity for those in the lowest educational group was expected to increase from about 23 per cent to 44 per cent, the study, led by researchers at Melbourne's Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, found.

For people with a university degree the figure was predicted to more than double from 14 to 30 per cent, while for those in the diploma category obesity was set to rise from 20 to 39 per cent.

Associate Professor Anna Peeters, head of obesity and population health at the institute, said the increase in obesity was concerning.

The study comes after an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed one-in-four Australian adults and one-in-12 children were obese.

"For the whole population, rates of weight gain are high and the prevalence of obesity is going to increase unless that changes," said Professor Peeters, who co-authored the study with Baker IDI researcher Kathryn Backholer.

However, Professor Peeters said the impact of those trends on social inequalities had not been looked at in detail.

"In general we know that people from more deprived areas or with lower educational (achievement) generally have more ill-health or worse health," she said.

Professor Peeters said the findings of the latest study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, could be used to target health strategies to particular socio-economic groups.

About 34 per cent of Australian adults are expected to be obese by 2025.

The West Australian

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