4842.0.55.001 - Overweight and Obesity in Adults in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007–08  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/2011  First Issue
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Contents >> Changes over time >> Changes over time

Changes over time

Over the last two decades in Australia, there has been a steady shift towards the higher end of the Body Mass Index, driven mainly by weight gain rather than changes in height (Graph 3.1).

3.1 Measured Body Mass Index(a), Adults

After adjusting for age, around 61% of adults aged 18 years and over were either overweight or obese in 2007-08, up four percentage points from 57% in 1995. Proportionally, fewer adults were normal weight or overweight in 2007-08 than in 1995, but the greatest increase was in the obese category with the proportion of obese adults rising from 19% to 24%. That is, the population is gaining weight faster with more adults in the obese category of BMI. In this period, the proportion of normal weight adults decreased from 41% to 37%, while the proportion of overweight adults decreased from 38% to 37%. In 2007-08, there were just as many people overweight as there were people of normal weight (Graph 3.2).

3.2 Measured Body Mass Index(a), Adults(b)

Men were gaining weight at a greater rate than women over this time, with the proportion of obese men rising from 19% to 25%, compared with a rise from 19% to 23% for women (Graphs 3.3 and 3.4).

3.3 Measured Body Mass Index(a), Men(b)

3.4 Measured Body Mass Index(a), Women(b)

In general, the prevalence of overweight and obesity increases with age (Graph 3.5). In 2007-08, around 37% of young adults aged 18-24 years were overweight or obese compared with 75% of people aged 65-74 years.

3.5 Proportion of people overweight or obese(a)(b), by Age

The weight gain as people age can be seen by analysing age 'cohorts'. For example, if people aged 18 years in 1995 and people aged 30-31 years in 2007-08 are treated as representative of the same group of people (having aged 12-13 years), the shift into the overweight and obese BMI categories is evident. In 1995, 21% of 18 year olds were overweight or obese. By 2007-08, over 50% of this cohort (now aged 30 or 31 years) were overweight or obese (Graph 3.6). With Australia's ageing population, the increasing number of older and overweight or obese Australians has implications for future health care resources and the national health budget.

3.6 Proportion of people overweight or obese(a)(b), by selected age cohort

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