Australian Bureau of Statistics
4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/12/2012
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Physical measures were obtained for all persons, excluding pregnant women, aged 2 years and over, in the NHS and NNPAS surveys.
Physical measurements were taken towards the end of the survey. All physical measurements were voluntary, and women who had identified they were pregnant were not measured. Interviewers used digital scales to measure weight, a stadiometer to measure height, and a metal tape measure (which avoided the risk of the tape stretching) to measure waist circumference. Thorough interviewer training identified the points at which waists were to be measured (as recommended by Australian government health agencies), as well as how to take the measurements with the least amount of interviewer and respondent discomfort (either holding the end of the tape at the appropriate point and asking the respondent to turn around until the tape met, or asking the respondent to hold the end of the tape and walking around them until the tape met).
Interviewers encouraged respondents to remove their shoes and any heavy clothing, e.g. jumpers, before they took measurements, however, this was voluntary, and may not have occurred in some cases. Interviewers were not required to record if they thought clothing may have impacted significantly on measurements. Weight was recorded in kilos to one decimal point, and height and waist measurements were recorded in centimeters to two decimal points. Waist measurements were taken by placing the tape measure across the top of the belly button. If a respondent's waist measurement was more than two meters, it was recorded as 200.00. If a respondent's weight was more than 150 kilograms it was recorded as 150 kilograms.
All physical measurements were taken twice to ensure measurements were correct. A random extra measurement for height and waist was taken for ten per cent of respondents. If the second measurement of height or waist varied by more than one centimeter than a third reading was taken.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index (BMI) scores were derived using Quetelet's metric body mass index which is calculated as weight (kg) divided by height (m)2. BMI scores are commonly grouped for output. Although certain ethnic groups, including Asian and Indigenous people, have been shown to have an increased prevalence of disease at much lower BMIs than Europeans (Wood, 2007), no differentiation for ethnicity has been made, therefore BMI cut-off points are those established for people of European origin. The output classification for adults used for this survey is shown below:
While the formula to calculate BMI scores is the same for adults and children, the classification of children's BMI is different to that of persons aged 18 years and over, and takes into account individual age and sex. BMI cut-off ranges for children 2 to 17 years of age are included in Appendix 4: Classification of BMI for children. Half-year cut-off points are used to calculate children's BMI scores for persons aged 2 to 17.
Waist circumference reflects mainly subcutaneous abdominal fat storage, and has been shown to positively correlate to disease risk (NHMRC, updated 12 March 2004). The scale used for determining risky waist circumference is as recommended by the World Health Organisation, (See Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO Consultation, 2000). As with BMI, the cut-off points in this scale are best used for people of European origin, however, as ethnicity cannot be determined, the same cut-off points are used for all respondents.
The data items and related output categories for this topic will be available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.
Information on body mass and physical measurements was collected in both the NHS and NNPAS. In Australian Health Survey: First Results (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001), released on 29 October 2012, data on this item are available from the NHS component (21,000 people). Results from the AHS core sample (the full 34,000 people, consisting of both NHS and NNPAS samples combined) will be available in May 2013. For more information on the structure of the AHS, see the Introduction of this Users' Guide.
Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following.
Comparability with 2007-08
Data collected on measured height and weight in the 2011-12 surveys used the same methodology as the 2007-08 NHS survey and is therefore directly comparable. The 2011-12 surveys did not collect self-reported height and weight. Hip measurements were also not collected in 2011-12.
This page last updated 4 April 2013
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