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Bronzed Aussie now a fat slob

A scene from the past? Australia is set to roll over the U.S. as the fattest nation on Earth.
A scene from the past? Australia is set to roll over the U.S. as the fattest nation on Earth.

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Forget about the image of the bronzed Aussie frolicking in the sun with a surfboard at the ready.

Instead, the average Australian is an overweight couch potato who spends too much time in front of the telly and does little exercise, researchers say.

Waistlines are getting bigger by the decade in the land famed for its beach culture, sports addiction and blazing sun.

In fact, Australia is now only slightly behind the United States as the world's fattest nation.

Sixty percent of Australians are either overweight or obese, a medical study by three Australian universities and the International Diabetes Institute has found.

The figure is double the rate of two decades ago and has dumped the average Aussie into the same fat league as Germany and Britain, authors wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia.

"Australia has been shown to have alarming rates of both central and general obesity," the researchers said.

"This urgently demands action on many levels to prevent further rises in the prevalence of diseases such as type two diabetes."

In the survey of over 11,000 adults aged 25 or over, 39 percent were found to be overweight while almost 21 percent were obese.

Men were the fatter slobs with 48.2 percent overweight and 19.3 percent obese. The ladies fared better in the overweight category (29.9 percent) but a bigger percentage were obese -- 20.9 percent.

Compared with a similar study in 1980, the obesity rates are now 2.5 times higher.

To blame, say researches, is too much fast food and television.

"Lower educational status, higher television viewing time and lower physical activity time were each strongly associated with obesity, with television viewing time showing a stronger relationship than physical activity time," the report said.

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