Excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers. As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions. In addition, being overweight can hamper the ability to control or manage chronic conditions.
Overweight and obesity refers to excess body weight. People who are overweight or obese have higher rates of death and illness than people of healthy weight, particularly from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers.
The main factors influencing overweight and obesity are poor diet and inadequate physical activity. Increased energy intake from the diet without an increase in energy expenditure through physical activity will result in energy storage as fat and weight gain.
Rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise in Australia. Collecting information on these trends is important for managing the associated health problems. The AIHW regularly reports on overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic disease. Better data are needed to monitor trends in overweight and obesity among particular groups over time, especially children.
Overweight and obesity can be measured in a number of ways, including the commonly used body mass index (BMI). BMI is an internationally recognised measure of overweight and obesity at a population level for both adults and children (Cole et al. 2000; WHO 2000). For more information and to calculate your BMI see Overweight and obesity an interactive insight.
Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM & Dietz WH 2000. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ 320:1240–3.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2000. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation. Geneva: WHO.
25 Feb 2021
Web report |
27 Nov 2020
Spending on meals out of home and fast food has risen over time
In 2017–18, 1 in 4 (25%) children and adolescents aged 2–17 were overweight or obese
High use of leisure screen-based activities is associated with increased overweight and obesity in children
In 2017–18, 38% of adults in the lowest socioeconomic areas were obese, compared with 24% in the highest
2 in 3 (67%) adults were overweight or obese in 2017–18—36% were overweight but not obese and 31% were obese
Australia had the 6th highest proportion of overweight or obese people aged 15+ among 22 OECD member countries in 2019
More reports and statistics on overweight and obesity can be found under Food & nutrition and Physical activity.
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