The West

WA obesity rate keeps rising
Growing problem: WA's obesity rate. Picture: Reuters

The latest health snapshot of WA shows a worrying rise in the number of obese adults, now at almost 28 per cent.

The WA Health Department health and wellbeing survey of 6500 people aged 16 and over shows obesity rates have jumped from 21 per cent a decade ago to 27.8 per cent last year, with more people drifting from the overweight category to obese.

It also shows people are eating fewer vegetables, with only one in 10 having five or more serves of vegetables daily and 50 per cent more men than women eating junk food meals each week.

While rates of risky drinking have fallen since 2002, almost a third of adults still consume alcohol at levels likely to increase their risk of long-term harm.

More than one in seven people surveyed reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition in the previous 12 months and those living outside Perth faced a much bigger struggle to get help and treatment.

But in positive trends, smoking rates have continued to decline, with only 10.9 per cent of adults smoking daily, and men and women have become significantly more active than in 2005.

The report shows people older than 65 face a significantly greater risk of chronic health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

WA Health consultant geriatrician Nicholas Waldron said being more active could help older people reduce their risk of chronic disease.

"From this report we can see that physical activity levels drop off after the age of 65, which is concerning when we know how important being active can be for overall health and wellbeing," Dr Waldron said.

Curtin University professor of health policy Mike Daube said that though the fall in smoking numbers was encouraging, levels of risky drinking and the rise in obesity rates were a red flag.

"We're seeing deeply worrying levels of alcohol harm in the community and more bad news is that we're eating poorly and getting fatter," he said.

"There is some improvement in physical activity, but you can't get away from the fact that a lot of obesity depends on what we eat and how much and that's going to be reflected in our health costs in coming decades."

The West Australian

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