4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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Healthy practices established early in life, such as as adequate physical activity, a balanced diet with sufficient fruit and vegetables, may continue into adolescence and adulthood, thereby reducing a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Conversely, risk factors such as being overweight or obese in childhood may increase a person's risk of developing such health conditions later in life.


Almost one quarter (24.9%) of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese in 2017-18 (17% overweight and 8.1% obese). The rates were similar for boys and girls and this has remained stable over the last ten years.


The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a minimum number of serves of fruit and vegetables each day for children, depending on their age and sex, to help ensure the optimum nutrition necessary to support growth and development [1]. More information about the guidelines is available in the Glossary.

On average, children aged 2-17 years usually consume 2.2 serves of fruit and 2 serves of vegetables each day, but because the recommendations for vegetables are considerably more than for fruit, children were much less likely to consume an adequate amount of vegetables.

In 2017-18, over seven in ten (73.0%) children aged 2-17 years ate the recommended serves of fruit, an increase from 2014-15 (70.1%). One in sixteen (6.3%) ate the recommended amount of vegetables and one in seventeen (6.0%) children met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of both fruit and vegetables, similar to 2014-15.

Girls were more likely than boys to meet recommended intakes for fruit in 2017-18 (76.0% compared with 70.6%), but the proportions of girls and boys meeting recommended intakes for vegetables were similarly low (7.3% and 5.3% respectively).

Graph Image for Children aged 2-17 years - Proportion meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


For definitions, please see the main chapter on selected sugar sweetened and diet drinks or the Glossary.

Around two in five children aged 2-17 years (44.8%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 41.1% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once a week compared with 7.7% for diet drinks. One in fourteen children (7.1%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (31.1%) consume them one to three days per week. By comparison, 1.3% of children consume diet drinks daily and 5.4% consume them one to three days per week.


Boys aged 2-17 years are more likely to consume drink sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. Almost half (47.0%) of boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with just over a third (34.8%) of girls. Unlike for adults, rates of consumption of diet drinks was similar among boys and girls with 8.2% and 7.0% consuming them at least once per week.

Just over half (55.2%) of all children aged 2-17 years do not usually consume any sugar or diet drinks. Girls were less likely to consume than boys (61.6% of non-consumers compared with 49.2%).

Graph Image for Children who consume sugar sweetened and diet drinks - Proportion who consume at least once a week, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18

Children aged 2-17 years who are daily consumers of sugar sweetened drinks consume on average 2.4 cups per day (equivalent to 1.6 cans of soft drink or one 600mL bottle). The average intake for boys aged 2-17 who consume sugar sweetened beverages daily is higher than girls (2.8 cups per day compared with 1.6 cups).

Children who drink diet drinks daily consume 3.3 cups per day on average.


1 National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. <https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines>; last accessed 27/11/2018