Sydney Ask the average Sydneysider to name an image that best captures the city's healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle and they'll probably nominate Sunbaker - a classic photograph by Max Dupain. Shot in 1937, the simple black and white photograph depicts the glistening head, arms and shoulders of a young man lying on the sand, seemingly exhausted from swimming or surfing in the ocean. Apart from its disarming simplicity, the photograph seems to capture the ideal Aussie male physical type: young, fit and tanned. 'The sunbaker is completely relaxed and at one with the land,' according to the National Gallery of Australia, which bought the original photograph in 1976. Seven decades later the average body type on Sydney's beaches couldn't be more different from Max Dupain's athletic sunbaker. Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that an estimated 7.4 million Australians are now classified as overweight or obese. Anyone visiting one of Sydney's famous beaches - such as Bondi, Manly or Coogee - on a weekend will soon find plenty of examples of the new-look Aussie. Fat thighs, beer bellies and flabby bottoms are ubiquitous. Today's sunbaker is more likely to resemble a baby whale than an Olympic swimmer. The obesity epidemic is so severe that the state government has been forced to buy three supersize ambulances for the growing legion of fat Sydneysiders. The special vehicles, which cost A$150,000 (HK$1.06 million) each, are equipped with mega-lift hydraulic ramps, extra-wide trolleys and blow-up mats that can support up to one tonne in weight. And the problems don't end there. Hospitals are being forced to buy reinforced beds, stretchers and wheelchairs to accommodate these supersize patients - in some instances the doors are being widened to cope with extra-wide beds. In a bid to arrest this worrying trend, Morris Iemma, the premier of New South Wales, is personally leading a campaign against what he calls 'an epidemic' of childhood obesity in Sydney - targeting school canteens, junk food and lack of exercise. Apart from committing A$4 million to combat child obesity, the government has released a map highlighting Sydney's most overweight suburbs. Not surprisingly, the poorest suburbs seem to have the highest rates of obesity. Far from encouraging those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to improve their diet and exercise regimes, the obesity survey seems to have only reinforced class and regional stereotypes. Sadly, for Mr Iemma and his well-meaning supporters, not everyone is willing to adopt a healthier lifestyle in order to achieve the perfect beach physique. Doctors in Melbourne are testing a weight-reduction procedure, known as lap-band surgery, on a group of patients aged 14 to 18. The Australian Medical Association has already thrown its support behind the procedure, which it claims can reduce the weight of a morbidly obese person by up to 70 per cent. This year, it seems the only way to achieve the noble outline of Dupain's iconic Sunbaker is by being born into a wealthy suburb, growing up in a family that only eats fresh, healthy food or undergoing lap-band surgery. Good genes and a personal trainer might also help.