Degree Name

Master of Science (Research)


School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


Overweight and obesity are highly significant public health concerns because of the close association of the metabolic syndrome with chronic and potentially fatal diseases (WHO, 2002). The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity have substantially increased over the past decade and arecurrently the highest on record (Yanovski and Yanovski, 2002). Developed countries exhibit higher prevalence rates; however, the difference between developed and developing countries is gradually becoming less evident. In Australia 62% of men and 45% of women are classified as being overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI) score (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Abdominal obesity has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases compared to general obesity, where fat is distributed more evenly around the body (Summers et al., 2002). The diseases most commonly associated with abdominal obesity are hypertension, dislipidaemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer (Expert panel on the identification evaluation and treatment of overweight in adults, 1998). Worldwide efforts are being made to combat rising obesity rates, with the aim to develop effective treatment and intervention techniques (Swinburn, 2002).

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.