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Australia has the second highest rate of obese men among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), placing them just behind the United States, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, International health data comparisons 2020, compared health and healthcare data across OECD countries, focusing on Australia’s performance.

Data shows Australia had the second highest rate of obese men across 23 OECD countries (32%), only behind the US (38%). Australian women ranked eighth in terms of obesity, just behind New Zealand and Hungary.

Other findings show Australia’s consumption of alcohol was higher (9.5 litres per person aged 15+) than the OECD average (8.8). It had the sixth lowest proportion of daily smokers among people aged 15 and over (11.2%), with Greece ranking the highest. Life expectancy at birth was 82.8 years, above the OECD average of 80.7 years and seventh highest among OECD countries, with Japan (84.2 years) the highest.

The level of obesity among Australian men is concerning for Australians’ heart health, the Heart Foundation says.

“This is another reminder for Australians that their risk factors for heart disease are too high,” Heart Foundation Risk Assessment manager Natalie Raffoul said.

“Being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. We know that two in every three Australian adults (67%) are overweight or obese, and there are no signs that this trend is about to change.”

Around 95% of Australians do not eat the recommended five serves of vegetables per day and eat too many discretionary foods such as cakes, biscuits and fried foods, Ms Raffoul warned.

“At the same time more than 80% of Australian adults are not doing enough physical activity to meet physical activity guidelines, with close to one in five doing no physical activity at all.

“While life expectancy in Australia is increasing, previous research shows we are living longer in poorer health, and many of our risk factors for heart disease continue to climb.”