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Lifestyle modifiable reproductive and metabolic disease in women

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A major public health concern and prevention opportunity

Diet and physical activity have profound health impacts across the lifespan. Weight is escalating with reduced physical activity and increased caloric intake. Obesity now causes more ill health than undernutrition and it is driving non-communicable diseases internationally.1 Young women have the highest rate of weight gain, with unprecedented reproductive health implications. Metabolic, mental health and musculoskeletal complications are all increased in obesity, as is malignancy. The greatest effects fall increasingly on low and middle income countries, and on poorer people within all countries, mirroring the underlying socio-economic determinants.1 In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women present a key risk group. With established obesity being exceedingly difficult to treat, public health obesity prevention initiatives are now prioritised internationally. These initiatives need to be population wide and we align with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Obesity Case for Action and propose that young women of reproductive age, especially those of low socio-economic status and of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, are an important target group for obesity prevention.

Observational studies highlight the prevalence of excess weight, with less than 40% of…