By BIANCA CLARE
STOP overeating and start exercising or you'll die.
That's the blunt message that Coffs Harbour's only practising cardiologist, Dr John Waites, wants to get across to generation fat.
New figures released from the 2006 NSW Population Survey yesterday showed that almost 51 per cent of the 3000 people surveyed this year considered themselves to be overweight or obese ? something that does not surprise Dr Waites.
In fact, he thinks the number of people that are overweight or obese would be much more than 51 per cent but because they have forgotten what 'a normal person' looks they don't see themselves as having a weight problem.
"Unfortunately the people who do have a real problem don't realise it," Dr Waites said.
"Those people look at old programs like Countdown and think the stars are so thin but, in actual fact, that's what they should look like."
Dr Waites said he was absolutely horrified at Coffs Harbour's expanding waistlines.
"More than 75 per cent of the people I see are overweight," he said.
"We are not talking about being one or two kilograms overweight, either.
"These patients are 20 to 30 kilograms overweight."
Dr Waites even had to install extra large chairs in his waiting room to accommodate the increasing size of his patients.
"It's not just my business," he said.
"Airlines, cinemas and car manufacturers are all having to revamp themselves to accommodate an influx of obese customers."
And this isn't the only indicator that obesity levels have hit an all-time high.
Dr Waites said for the first time since the 1960s the incidence of cardio vascular disease has increased.
"During the past five years I have seen some dramatic changes," he said.
"This year alone I have seen a number of 20-year-olds with high blood pressure and obese hearts.
Dr Waites said unfortunately losing excess weight wasn't just a matter of dieting.
"Everything we do today is associated with food.
"It used to be rude to eat in public and now it's considered the norm.
"You see people going for a picnic and the first thing they do is bring out the cake, coke and barbecued chicken.
"What ever happened to the good old-fashioned game of cricket?"