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A framework for monitoring overweight and obesity in Australia 

Overweight and obesity is a major health issue for both Australian adults and children. In 2017–18, 67% of adults and 25% of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. The framework developed by the AIHW to monitor overweight and obesity aims to describe, at a national level, the key risk factors for overweight and obesity, and their relationship with environmental, individual, social and behavioural characteristics, as well as health outcomes.

Data sources for monitoring overweight and obesity in Australia 

This report assesses the potential for existing data sources to improve monitoring overweight and obesity in Australia, and highlights future opportunities for improve monitoring these conditions. A 4-step process is used to assess the utility of different data sources to provide relevant information on the 6 priority information areas required for monitoring these conditions.

Overweight and obesity rates across Australia 2014–15 

The effects of overweight and obesity are a leading health concern in Australia. This report presents local rates of overweight and obesity by Primary Health Network areas, which in 2014–15 ranged from 53% in Northern Sydney to 73% in Country South Australia. It reveals higher rates for people in regional areas than in cities. The report also focuses on obesity and shows that the rate of obese adults ranged from 16% in Central and Eastern Sydney to 38% in Country South Australia.

National statistics can’t always show the full extent of an issue. This report shines a light on rates of overweight and obesity at the local level, presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas across Australia.

Supplementary data tables and interactive data visualisations were updated in June 2018 to include age-standardised rates for comparative purposes.

This report was first published on the MyHealthyCommunities website.

Overweight and obesity in Australia: a birth cohort analysis 

Adults in 2014–15 were significantly more likely to be obese than adults of the same age 20 years earlier at almost any given age. At age 18–21, 15.2% of those born in 1994–1997 were obese, almost double the proportion of those born in 1974–1977 at the same age (8.0%). Children and adolescents in 2014–15 were also significantly more likely to be overweight or obese at ages 10–13 and 14–17 than those of the same age 20 years earlier.

Additional overweight and obesity data are reported in 2 other AIHW products: A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia and An interactive insight into overweight and obesity in Australia.

A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia 

This report provides an overview of overweight and obesity in Australia—a major public health issue that has significant health and financial costs. Almost one-quarter of children and two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and rates continue to rise, largely due to a rise in obesity, which cost the economy $8.6 billion in 2011–12.

Additional overweight and obesity data are reported in 2 other AIHW products: Overweight and obesity in Australia: a birth cohort analysis and An interactive insight into overweight and obesity in Australia.

Risk factors to health 

Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder. Behavioural risk factors are those that individuals have the most ability to modify. Biomedical risk factors are bodily states that are often influenced by behavioural risk factors.

Weight loss surgery in Australia 2014–15: Australian hospital statistics 

Weight loss surgery in Australia 2014–15: Australian hospital statistics is a new report in AIHW’s series of summary reports describing the characteristics of hospitals and hospital services in Australia. In 2014–15, there were about 22,700 hospital separations involving one or more weight loss surgery procedures. Seven in 8 of these separations occurred in private hospitals. Around 18,000 of weight loss surgery separations, or 79%, were for female patients. From 2005–06 to 2014–15, the total number of weight loss surgery separations more than doubled, from about 9,300 to 22,700.

Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions 

This report updates and extends estimates of the burden due to overweight and obesity reported in the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 to include burden in people aged under 25, revised diseases linked to overweight and obesity based on the latest evidence, and estimates by socioeconomic group. The report includes scenario modelling, undertaken to assess the potential impact on future health burden if overweight and obesity in the population continues to rise or is reduced. The enhanced analysis in the report shows that 7.0% of the total health burden in Australia in 2011 is due to overweight and obesity, and that this burden increased with increasing level of socioeconomic disadvantage.

Obesity and injury in the National Hospital Morbidity Database 

Obesity and injury are major health burdens on society. This report studies the feasibility of using the National Hospital Morbidity Database to investigate the relationship between obesity and hospitalised injury in Australia. The database does not currently provide a reliable basis for measuring obesity among admitted patients or for assessing the characteristics of injury cases with obesity. Inclusion of height and weight information in separations data would enable analysis of the effects of body mass index on injury occurrence, treatment and outcomes.

Risk factor trends: age patterns in key health risk factors over time 

This report presents comparisons over time for different age groups for key health risk factors, including overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The good news is that smoking rates have declined, particularly among younger people. However, overweight/obesity rates have increased for virtually all age groups, especially females aged 12 to 44.

Obesity and injury in Australia: a review of the literature 

Obesity and injury are major health burdens on society. Possible relationships between obesity and injury have recently been reported, but their nature and extent has been unclear. This report presents summary information from an overview of the existing literature to investigate obesity injury relationships. It also surveys opportunities to fill relevant gaps in knowledge in Australia.

Weight loss surgery in Australia 

This report shows that there was a substantial increase in weight loss surgery in Australia, from approximately 500 separations in 1998-99 to 17,000 in 2007-08. In 2007-08, 90% of separations for weight loss surgery were in private hospitals, with private health insurance funding 82% of separations. In 2007-08, the estimated cost of hospital care for weight loss surgery was $108 million-approximately $15.2 million in benefits was paid through the Medicare Benefits Schedule for weight loss surgery-related procedures.

Obesity and workplace absenteeism among older Australians 

This bulletin examines the relationship, as far as Australia’s 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) allows, between obesity and absenteeism from work in almost 10,000 employed men and women who participated in that survey. It also assesses whether the results are consistent with the likelihood of having consulted a health professional and with self-assessed health status. The relationship between obesity and labour force status is also examined.

Health, wellbeing and body weight: characteristics of overweight and obesity in Australia, 2001 

Overweight, and in particular obesity, is known to be associated with numerous adverse health conditions. This bulletin, which complements other work produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on overweight and obesity, investigates the relationship between this growing public health problem and a number of health-related characteristics using national estimates from the 2001 National Health Survey.

Obesity trends in older Australians 

This bulletin examines levels and trends in the prevalence of obesity in the context of an ageing populations and the likely health and economic consequences. The focus is confined to obesity rather than lesser degrees of overweight because obesity has significant health consequences at all ages. The findings will inform policy makers and program deliverers who have the task of tackling the obesity problem, particularly among older Australians.

Are all Australians gaining weight?: differentials in overweight and obesity among adults, 1989-90 to 2001 

This bulletin presents the results of analyses of the prevalence of overweight and obesity for a range of different subgroups of Australian adults over the period 1989-90 to 2001. These comparisons between subgroups are referred to as differentials. The characteristics examined include basic demographic details (age and sex), place of residence, socioeconomic status, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and ethnicity.

A growing problem: trends and patterns in overweight and obesity among adults in Australia, 1980 to 2001 

This bulletin documents the evidence from national cross-sectional surveys of overweight and obesity among adults in Australia during the past two decades, puts the size of the problem in perspective, and compares the prevalence in Australia with the prevalence in other developed countries. Future bulletins will focus on trends by socio-demographic and economic factors, and on the impact of overweight and obesity in Australia in terms of a number of health-related measures.