Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health. Not maintaining a healthy weight—such as being underweight, overweight or obese—is a risk factor for lower life expectancy and the development of chronic disease, such as:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • some musculoskeletal conditions
  • some cancers.

Based on measured data, people aged 2 and over with disability are more likely to be overweight or obese (72%) than those without disability (55%) (Figure 1). Rates are similar between those with severe or profound disability and others with disability.

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Males aged 2 and over with disability (75%) are more likely than females aged 2 and over with disability (69%) to be overweight or obese (Figure 1). As this is consistent with patterns for the overall population, this likely reflects the sex of the person rather than their disability status.

Older people (aged 65 and over) with disability (79%) are more likely than younger people (aged under 65) (68%) to be overweight or obese (Figure 1).

Based on measured waist circumference, adults with disability (76%) are more likely than those without (59%) to have an increased or substantially increased risk of developing chronic disease (Figure 2).

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Women with disability (79%) are more likely than men with disability (73%) to be at increased risk based on waist circumference (Figure 2). As this is consistent with patterns for the overall population, this likely reflects the sex of the person rather than their disability status.

Older people (aged 65 and over) with disability (85%) are more likely than younger people (aged under 65) with disability (70%) to be at increased risk based on waist circumference (Figure 2).

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of the main unit record file (MURF).

Alternative text for Weight

Figure 1

Stacked column chart showing three categories of body mass index for people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by disability status, by age group, including 2-64 years, 65+ years and all ages, and by sex. The chart shows females with disability are more likely (69%) to be overweight or obese than those without disability (48%). Back to figure 1

Figure 2

Stacked column chart showing three categories of risk of developing chronic disease, based on waist circumference, for adults with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by disability status, by age group, including 18-64 years, 65+ years and all adults, and by sex. The chart shows men with disability are more likely (51%) to have substantially increased risk of developing chronic disease than those without disability (32%). Back to figure 2