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A complex disease in which excess body weight increases the risk of other health issues

In Australia, 31% of adults and a concerning number of children, about 8%, are obese. Many factors cause and influence obesity, including genetics, certain medical conditions and medications, diet and lifestyle. Environmental factors such as stress and the availability and lower cost of unhealthy foods also contribute to the prevalence of obesity. It is estimated that if current trends of this disease continue, obesity may cost the Australian community $87.8 billion by 2032.

Obesity plays a key role in the development of cardiovascular disease, 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.

With obesity causing so many health and economic impacts, better disease management is vitally important for society. Researchers at Garvan are conducting diverse and complementary studies, to better understand – and treat – obesity.

To find out more about obesity, visit Healthdirect Australia.

Obesity research at Garvan

At Garvan, we’re investigating 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 the gut microbiome in patient responses to treatments, as well as how blocking a specific receptor of the molecule neuropeptide Y might prevent weight gain. In addition, our researchers are working to identify genetic variations that cause obesity, both to develop improved, targeted treatments and to identify those at risk of developing this disease, to provide preventative healthcare.