More than 70 per cent of middle-aged Australian men are overweight, and the older they get the harder it is to stop the kilos increasing, new research has found.
The federal government's Ten to Men longitudinal study on male health has revealed a grim picture, finding that once overweight men generally remain so two years later.
It also put the combined cost of obesity in Australia at $8.6 billion annually, factoring in health care, absenteeism from work, disability payments, unemployment and the loss of productivity because of illness, or premature death.
"The findings presented here suggest that experiencing ongoing or persistent overweight and obesity is associated with a much higher likelihood of a range of other chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, diabetes and arthritis," the study said.
"This suggests that initiatives to help Australian males achieve and maintain a healthy weight could be highly beneficial."
In its key findings, the study revealed 71 per cent of men aged 35 to 57 were either overweight or obese.
Globally, that put Australia behind just the US and Chile at 74 per cent.
That level dropped to 60 per cent for those aged 25-34 and to just 20 per cent for boys aged 10-14.
It also revealed that as people aged they were less likely to stay in a healthy weight range.
While 91 per cent of boys were still at a healthy weight two years later, that fell to just 77 per cent among those aged 45-57.
But once overweight, 91 per cent of men aged 35-57 were still overweight two years later.
The study, which used data collected between 2013 and 2016, also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and young men were almost twice as likely to be overweight or obese.
On the upside, it said overweight or obese men were significantly more likely to have consulted health care services including GPs, dieticians and specialist doctors, providing opportunities for targeted weight prevention strategies.
"This highlights the increased levels of engagement with the health care system in general among those classified as overweight or obese, but also points to possible opportunities for health interventions," the report said.
"Effective monitoring and management of overweight and obesity in the population is important to contribute to efforts to reduce the burden on both individuals and the health care system."
Australian Associated Press