Many factors can cause and influence obesity: from diet and lifestyle to genetics. But in turn it leads to significant health risks like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.

About obesity

Fat cells

Obesity — which is now classed as a disease — has reached epidemic proportions. Estimates show 65% of Australian adults are overweight or obese. The direct health costs of obesity are estimated to exceed $2 billion annually. 

Obesity plays a significant  role in the development of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnoea, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, depression and arthritis.

It accelerates the onset of Type 2 diabetes, is the major cause of infertility in Australia and its presence predicts worse outcomes for breast and other cancers. Obesity carries stigma and can also be a cause of discrimination.>

With so many life-threatening health issues, understanding and better managing obesity are vitally important for society.

Obesity research at Garvan

At the Garvan Institute, we examine the impact of genetic and environmental factors on body fat, its distribution and how this impacts overall health. We're examining how weight loss improves diabetes and related diseases; the role of brown fat and the gut microbiome, as well as the power and function of exercise and the impact of bariatric surgery.

Our obesity research    More

Key statistics



65% of Australians are overweight



30% of Australians are clinically obese



25% of Australian adults are affected by prediabetes