Melbourne, June 19 : Australia has officially become the World's Most Overweight Nation, ahead of the notoriously super-sized Americans, who have a 25 per cent obesity rate, according to figures.
The latest comprehensive obesity study has shown that 26 per cent of adult Australians - almost four million - are now obese, one million more than the last calculation in 1999.
"That, unfortunately, makes us the heavyweight champions, a title we don't really want," News.com.au quoted Professor Simon Stewart, head of preventative cardiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, as saying.
Experts are now calling for extreme measures like gym discounting and denial of surgery based on body mass index (BMI) to rectify the situation.
The report, entitled 'Australia's Future Fat Bomb', was released ahead of the Federal Government's obesity inquiry.
It presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians nationwide in 2005, giving the most thorough picture of obesity since the AusDiab study in 1999.
The report reveals that nine million adults have a BMI over 25, making them overweight or obese, an increase from seven million.
Four million are obese, up from three million.
Middle-aged Australians are leading the way, with seven in 10 men and six in 10 women aged 45 to 64 now registering a BMI of 25 or more.
The report calls for a national weight loss strategy on the scale of smoking and skin cancer campaigns, including subsidising gym memberships and personal training sessions for heavier people.
Wait lists for surgery could be prioritised on the basis of weight loss.