How do these findings align with national targets?
The National Preventive Health Strategy and the National Obesity Strategy both include targets for reducing the prevalence of overweight (including obesity) in adults and children by 2030 (Commonwealth 2022, the Department 2021). These are similar to the stable and target scenarios in this study which showed large reductions in the attributable burden prevented in 2030.
Although the targets refer to both adults and children, further work is needed to determine the potential burden prevented among all linked diseases associated with children. Among children, only asthma is included in this study as a disease linked to overweight (including obesity) while physical inactivity attributable burden was assessed only for adults aged 20 and over.
The National Preventive Health Strategy’s targets for physical activity relate to reducing the prevalence of physical inactivity (no physical activity) and insufficient activity (according to national recommendations) in the population by 2030.
All physical activity target scenarios in this study achieved the strategy’s target for inactivity – there were reductions in future disease burden of between 6% and 49% compared with the stable scenario.
In terms of METs, the strategy’s target for reducing insufficient activity (where insufficient activity is less than 150 minutes per week of moderate activity for all adults) is achieved in the target scenario where people do the equivalent of an extra 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 5 days a week (that is, 750 MET-mins). In this scenario, attributable disease burden could reduce by 31% (55,700 DALY) in 2030.
This scenario modelling demonstrates the significance of the strategy’s 2030 targets in reducing the risk of developing disease and the health loss attributable to being physically inactive or living with overweight (including obesity). Large improvements in attributable burden could be expected in 2030 through achieving these targets as a result of interventions that improve exposure to these risk factors.