Almost a third of overweight adults mistakenly think that their health is excellent or very good, according to a new study by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.
The heart health charity surveyed more than 12,500 people aged 30-65 and found that women were more likely to be in denial about the impact their weight has on their health than men.
"Our perception of what being healthy looks like seems to be expanding at the same rate as our waistlines," Healthy Weight Director at the Heart Foundation Susan Anderson said.
"As being overweight becomes more common, it appears that some people no longer consider carrying extra kilos to be a threat to their health.
"In reality, being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Australian men and women, as well as diabetes, arthritis and some types of cancer."
Overall, 32 percent of overweight women thought they were in excellent or very good health compared to 29 percent of overweight men. The gender gap increased to 8 percent in the 60-65 age group.
The Heart Foundation also found that a significant proportion of people still considered themselves to be in excellent health even when their doctor recommended making lifestyle changes.
"The way we view our health may be clouded by judging ourselves against others rather than against medical advice and the recommended guidelines," Anderson said.
Almost 10 million Australian adults are now overweight or obese, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics finding that 25 percent are obese, 37 percent are overweight and 37 percent are a healthy weight.
For most people, being a healthy weight means having a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9, but waist circumference is also a good indicator. Women should aim for a waist measurement of less than 80cm and men for less than 94cm.
"A comprehensive approach is needed to help people make healthier choices. As well as continuing to challenge food companies to make their food healthier through our Tick Program, the Heart Foundation is encouraging federal and state government to make healthy food affordable and accessible; provide clearer labelling of unhealthy ingredients; and improve local neighbourhoods so that more families have access to parks and safe routes for kids to walk and ride to school."
The survey also found that:
- Almost a fifth of people who have been advised by their doctor to lose weight rate their health as very good or excellent.
- One in six people who have been advised by their doctor to do more physical activity rate their health as very good or excellent.
- More than one in six people who have been advised by their doctor to improve their diet rate their health as very good or excellent.
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