Published on February 13, 2008 at 3:39 PM
Ms Meagher says moving a seriously obese patient usually takes five hours, and sometimes requires the help of police, firefighters and volunteers from the State Emergency Service.
The latest research from Access Economics has estimated the economic cost of obesity to the Australian health system as around $873 million a year and Ms Meagher says along with an ageing population, presents the most significant challenge facing the Australian health system.
Data recently released by NSW Health has revealed there are seven urban and 12 rural areas where more than half of people over 16 were fat; also revealed was that one in every four school students were overweight or obese.
According to the report obesity and its associated illnesses cost Australian society and governments a total of 21 billion dollars in 2005.
Among men, the biggest increase in obesity between 1995 and 2005 occurred in the 25-34 age bracket, with the figure jumping 10 per cent to 23 per cent; for women, the biggest increase was in the 35-44 age range, with 20 per cent obesity compared with 12 per cent in 1995.