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Children's risk factors

Contains key statistics and information about children's risk factors such as overweight and obesity and diet, including state and territory findings

Reference period
2017-18
Released
12/12/2018
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

  • 25% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese.
  • 6% of children met both the fruit and vegetables recommendations.
  • 9% of adults and 7% of children consume sugar sweetened drinks daily.
  • 45% of children aged 2-17 years usually consume either sugar sweetened drink or diet drinks at least once per week.

Healthy practices established early in life, such 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.

Overweight and obesity

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.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

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).

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Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

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.

Who consumes sugar sweetened and diet drinks?

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%).

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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.

State and territory findings

Overweight and obesity

  • In 2017-18, almost one quarter (24.9%) of Australian children were overweight or obese (17% overweight and 8.1% obese). 
  • Across all States and Territories, the proportion of children (boys and girls) who were overweight or obese has remained stable since 2014-15, with the exception of Victoria where this rate has declined since 2014-15 from 28.6% to 22.6%. 
  • In 2017-18, children in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest rates of overweight or obese at 28.7% and 28.6% respectively. The lowest rate was 22.6% in Victoria.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Around two in five Australian children (44.8%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • The highest rate of children who usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week was South Australia and the lowest rate was in the Australian Capital Territory (48.3% compared with 39.7%). 
  • Tasmania had the highest rate of children who consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week (44.9%) compared with the lowest rate in the Australian Capital Territory at 36.0%. In comparison, South Australia had the highest rate of children who consume diet drinks at least once per week (12.1%) compared with the Australian Capital Territory (4.7%).

More detailed nutrition information was collected as part of the Australian Health Survey 2011-12. See Australian Health Survey: Nutrition – State and Territory results, 2011-12 (cat. No. 4364.0.55.009).

New South Wales

Overweight and obesity

  • One quarter (25.7%) of children were overweight or obese, with the rates similar for boys and girls and remaining similar since 2014-15. 
  • More children were overweight (17.6%) than obese (7.9%).
     

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • More than seven in ten (71.6%) children met the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst one in fifteen (6.6%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • One in fifteen (6.6%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Around two in five children (45.8%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 41.7% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 7.0% for diet drinks. 
  • One in fourteen children (7.7%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (30.8%) consume them 1-3 days per week. By comparison, 1.3% of children consume diet drinks daily and 5.9% consume them 1-3 days per week. 
  • Boys are more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. Almost half (49.1%) of boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with just over a third (33.6%) of girls.
     

Victoria

Overweight and obesity

  • More than one fifth (22.6%) of children were overweight or obese (14.9% overweight and 8.0% obese). This rate has declined since 2014-15 where 28.6% of children were overweight or obese.
     

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Three quarters (75.6%) of children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst around one in fourteen (7.2%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • One in fifteen (6.5%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Two in five children (42.0%) usually consume either sugar sweetened or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 38.1% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 8.7% for diet drinks. 
  • One in twenty children (5.1%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (31.0%) consume them 1-3 days per week. By comparison, 1.1% of children consume diet drinks daily and 6.2% consume them 1-3 days per week. 
  • Boys are more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. More than two in five (44.3%) boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with just under a third (31.8%) of girls.
     

Queensland

Overweight and obesity

  • Around one quarter (24.5%) of children were overweight or obese (15.4% overweight and 8.7% obese) in 2017-18, these rates were similar for girls and boys and have remained similar since 2014-15.
     

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • More than seven in ten (71.5%) children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst one in seventeen (5.9%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • One in nineteen (5.3%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Around half of children (46.4%) consume sugar sweetened or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks were more popular than diet drinks with 44.2% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 6.0% for diet drinks. 
  • One in twelve (8.1%) children consume sugar sweetened drinks daily while one third (33.1%) consume them on 1-3 days per week. By comparison, only 0.8% of children consume diet drinks daily, while 4.7% consume them on 1-3 days per week. 
  • Boys were more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. Just over half (51.1%) of boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with about two in five (35.7%) girls.
     

South Australia

Overweight and obesity

  • One quarter (25.6%) of children were overweight or obese (18.9% overweight and 7.5% obese). The rates were similar for boys and girls and have remained similar since 2014-15.
     

The rate for children who were overweight or obese was similar to the national rate.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Seven in ten (70.5%) children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst only 3.7% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • Only 3.7% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

South Australia had a lower rate of children who met the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended daily serves for vegetables compared with Australia (3.7% compared with 6.3%).

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Just over half of children (53.2%) consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 42.6% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 12.1% for diet drinks. 
  • One in fourteen children (6.0%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (32.2%) consume them 1-3 days per week. By comparison, 3.6% of children consume diet drinks daily and 7.6% consume them 1-3 days per week. 
  • There was no difference between boys and girls and sugar sweetened drink consumption (40.9% and 44.7% respectively).
     

South Australia had a higher rate of children who consume diet drinks daily compared with Australia (3.6% compared with 1.3%).

Western Australia

Overweight and obesity

  • Around one quarter (24.7%) of children were overweight or obese (18.6% overweight and 7.2% obese). The rates were similar for boys and girls.
     

The rates for children who were obese were similar to the national rate.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Three quarters (75.8%) of children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst close to one in fifteen (6.8%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • One in seventeen (5.8%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Two in five children (43.3%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Children are more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than diet drinks with around two in five (39.9%) children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 5.9% for diet drinks. 
  • One in twelve children (8.2%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (30.3%) consume them 1-3 days per week. 
  • Unlike the trend for adults, similar proportions of boys and girls consume sugar sweetened drinks. More than two in five (42.2%) boys and over one third (37.6%) of girls consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week.
     

Tasmania

Overweight and obesity

  • More than one quarter (28.7%) of children were overweight or obese in 2017-18, with 16.9% of children categorised as overweight and 11.4% categorised as obese. 
  • The rates of boys and girls who were overweight or obese were similar (29.0% and 27.7% respectively) and have remained constant since 2014-15.
     

The rate for children who were overweight or obese was similar to the national rate.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Almost three quarters (74.0%) of children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst around one in sixteen (6.0%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • Only 4.2% met the guideline for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Rates of children who met the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended daily serve of fruit and vegetables were similar to the national rate.

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Less than half of children (47.9%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 44.9% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 7.9% for diet drinks. 
  • One in ten children (10.0%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (31.9%) consume them 1-3 days per week. 
  • Boys are more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. Just over half (53.3%) of boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with just over a third (37.3%) of girls.
     

Northern Territory

Overweight and obesity

  • One quarter (26.4%) of children were overweight or obese (16.9% overweight and 8.2% obese). The rates were similar for boys and girls and rates have remained similar since 2014-15.
     

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • Three quarters (73.9%) of children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst only 6.6% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • Only 7.7% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Rates of children who met the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended daily serves of vegetables were similar to the national rate.

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Around two in five children (44.1%) usually consume either sugar sweetened or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 37.7% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 9.5% for diet drinks. 
  • One in fourteen children (11.1%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and 2.1% of children consume diet drinks daily. 
  • Similar proportions of boys and girls consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week (37.5% and 44.4% respectively).
     

Rates of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks daily or once per week were similar to the national rate.

Australian Capital Territory

Overweight and obesity

  • More than one quarter (28.6%) of children were overweight or obese, with the rates in 2017-18 being similar for boys and girls. These rates have remained unchanged since 2014-15. 
  • In 2017-18, 22.1% of children were categorised as overweight and 7.4% were categorised as obese.
     

The rates for children who were overweight or obese were similar to the national rate.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

  • More than three quarters (75.3%) of children met the Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst 3.5% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables. 
  • Only 3.5% met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.
     

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

  • Over one third of children (39.7%) consume either sugar sweetened or diet drinks at least once per week. 
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 36.0% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 4.7% for diet drinks. 
  • One in thirteen (7.2%) children consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and over one quarter (26.7%) consume 1-3 days per week. 
  • Boys are more likely than girls to consume sugar drinks at least once per week (42.4% compared with 31.3%).
     

The rates for children consuming sugar sweetened drinks daily or once per week were similar to the national rates.

Data downloads

Table 16: Children's Body Mass Index, waist circumference, height and weight - Australia

Table 17: Children's consumption of fruit, vegetables, and selected sugar sweetened and diet drinks - Australia

Table 20: New South Wales

Table 21: Victoria

Table 22: Queensland

Table 23: South Australia

Table 24: Western Australia

Table 25: Tasmania

Table 26: Northern Territory

Table 27: Australian Capital Territory

All data cubes

Endnotes

Show all

  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

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4364.0.55.001.