An Australian expert says that obesity has already afflicted more than half the country's population, and has started to claim a lot of hidden cost in the form of several other health problems.
"There is no obesity timebomb. The bomb has already gone off," the Australian quoted Katherine Samaras, an associate professor at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, as saying.
According to her, about 60 per cent of Australians have become overweight or obese.
She also says that various individual health complaints treated by public hospitals-like non-genetic breast cancers, heart conditions, diabetes and birth complications-spring from obesity.
She says that as doctors treat patients for the symptoms of these problems rather than their underlying cause, the cost of obesity has been largely hidden to date.
Katherine points out that 75 per cent of the patients who undergo hip replacement operations are obese or overweight.
Eighty per cent of diabetes patients she sees are also obese, says Katherine.
She says that her patients even include a 30-year-old who weighs 197 kg.
"He costs 12,000 dollars a year in insulin alone," she said.
Katherine also says that obese women are often made to spend five days longer in hospital after giving birth, and that caesarean rates are higher amongst overweight women.
Overweight cardiac patients also end up paying additional hidden costs because hospitalisation rates are on average higher amongst them, she adds.
Katherine has revealed that obesity is not restricted to particular socio-economic groups, for her patients include judges and chief executive officers also.
"Not everyone can become obese. Some are genetically susceptible. It's very predictable," she said.
"We don't need specialised genetic tests. We only need to look at the parents and grandparents," she added.
The newspaper reports that a parliamentary inquiry will be launched to investigate into the long-term health consequences of the already high and growing obesity rates in Australia.