EXERCISE AND OBESITY IN ADULTS
Our July newsletter made reference to a report prepared by NCCRS for the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport about the increasing percentage of the Australian population who were physically active as reported in the National Health Survey (NHS). The ABS has now published more detailed analyses of physical activity, body mass and other health risk factors, including comparisons between the results of the 1989-90, 1995 and 2001 NHSs in Health Risk Factors, Australia, 2001.
The main features of this publication show that the increase in physical activity was mainly attributable to an increase in the number of people undertaking light exercise (such as walking). Low levels of light exercise increased from 33% of people aged 15 years and over in 1989-90 to 38% in 2001, while the percentage of the population exercising at moderate or high levels showed little change (remaining around 30% over the same period).
In the NHS, Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated from self-reported height and weight information, using the formula weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of height (in metres). A person with a BMI in the range 25.0 to less than 30.0 is classified in the NHS as overweight and with a BMI of 30.0 or greater as obese. The last three NHSs show that body dimensions being reported by Australians have placed them increasingly in the overweight or obese categories. In 1989-90, 36% of people aged 15 years and over were overweight or obese. This increased to 39% in 1995 and 44% in 2001.