4727.0.55.001 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/11/2013  First Issue
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Contents >> Physical measurements >> Measured waist circumference, body mass and abdominal obesity

MEASURED WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE, BODY MASS AND ABDOMINAL OBESITY

Being overweight or obese (as measured using Body Mass Index), elevated waist circumference and/or abdominal obesity (as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio) are all widely accepted indicators of potential risk for the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertensive disease (high blood pressure) and Type 2 diabetes. In the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, measured height and weight were collected to determine a person's Body Mass Index (BMI), analysis of these results is presented in the Overweight and Obesity chapter (Overweight and obesity (BMI)).

According to the International Diabetes Federation and World Health Organization, a waist measurement greater than 94 cm (for men) and greater than 80cm (for women) are indicators of increased risk for the development of these chronic diseases. Abdominal obesity is defined as a BMI above 30.0, or a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.90 or more (for men) or 0.85 or more (for women).

RESULTS FROM 2012–13

Waist circumference

In 2012–13, three in five (60%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 18 years and over had a waist circumference that put them at increased risk of developing chronic diseases, while four in five (81%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had an increased level of risk. In all age groups, higher proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than men were at increased risk due to their elevated waist circumference.

On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 18 years and over had a waist measurement of 99.7 cm, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had a waist measurement of 97.4 cm.

The proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were at increased risk of developing chronic diseases (based on an elevated waist circumference) were higher in older age groups. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, the proportion at increased risk ranged from 37% of 18–24 year olds to 80% of those aged 55 years and over. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the comparable rates ranged from 68% of 18–24 year olds to 91% of those aged 55 years and over.

AT INCREASED RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASES(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
—2012–13
Graph: At Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases

Waist circumference and body mass

In 2012–13, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were overweight or obese were also at increased risk of developing chronic diseases based on their waist circumference (84% and 98%, respectively). However, a further two in five (44%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and around one in ten (11%) men were at increased risk of developing chronic diseases based on their waist circumference, even though their BMI was in the underweight/normal range.

Waist-to-hip ratio

In 2012–13, 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 18 years and over were at increased risk of developing chronic diseases based on their waist-to-hip ratio, while for women the proportion at increased risk was lower (73%).

The proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were at increased risk of developing chronic diseases (based on their waist-to-hip ratio) were higher in older age groups. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, the proportion at increased risk ranged from 65% of 18–24 year olds to 98% of those aged 55 years and over. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the comparable rates ranged from 58% of 18–24 year olds to 84% of those aged 55 years and over.

CHANGE OVER TIME

Information on measured waist and hip circumference was collected for the first time in the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey.

HOW DO THESE RATES COMPARE WITH THE RATES FOR NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?

Information on measured waist circumference was collected for non-Indigenous people in the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey, but have not been included as part of this release. There are no comparable data available for non-Indigenous people on measured hip circumference or wait-to-hip ratios.

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