4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2019   
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WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE

Waist circumference is a commonly used measure of whether a person is of a healthy weight or not. In particular it provides a good estimate of body fat, and in conjunction with Body Mass Index can indicate a person's potential risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Definitions

A waist measurement of 94cm or more for men or 80cm or more for women indicates that a person is at increased risk of developing chronic disease[1].

In 2017-18, 35.4% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their waist circumference measured. For these people, waist circumference was imputed. For more information see Appendix 2: Physical measurements in the 2017-18 National Health Survey.

In 2017-18, the average waist measurement for adult men was 98.0cm, and for women it was 87.9cm. Three out of five (59.6%) Australian men and two-thirds of Australian women (66.0%) had a measured waist circumference that put them at an increased risk of disease. The proportion of population at increased risk has remained stable since 2011-12.

The proportion of men and women with a waist circumference that puts them at risk of developing chronic diseases increases with age, with more than three-quarters of men and women aged 55 years and over at increased risk in 2017-18 (76.8% of men compared with 80.3% of women).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with an increased risk waist circumference(a), 2017-18

Footnote(s): (a) A waist measurement of 94cm or more for men and 80cm or more for women.

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


Men and women in Regional and Remote areas of Australia were more likely to have waist measurements that put them at an increased risk than those in Major Cities of Australia. Around two thirds of men in Inner Regional (64.8%), Outer Regional (65.2%) and Remote Australia (66.7%) had waist measurements indicating increased risk, compared with less than three in five (57.5%) men in Major Cities. Seven in ten women in Inner Regional (72.0%), Outer Regional (71.5%) and Remote Australia (73.5%) had waist measurements indicating increased risk, compared with over six in ten (63.6%) women in Major Cities.

People living in the most disadvantaged areas were more likely to have waist measurements that put them at increased risk than those living in the least disadvantaged areas. Close to two-thirds (62.8%) of men living in the most disadvantaged areas had waist measurements indicating increased risk, compared with just over half (54.3%) of men living in least disadvantaged areas. Similarly, women living in the most disadvantaged areas were more likely to have an increased risk waist measurement compared with those living in areas of least disadvantage (72.5% compared with 58.7%).

ENDNOTES

1 World Health Organisation, Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO Consultation, 2000, <https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/obesity/WHO_TRS_894/en/>; last accessed 13/11/2018