Prevalence

The interactive graphs below will allow you to explore the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia.

Children and adolescents

In 2017–18, one in four (25%) children and adolescents aged 2–17 were overweight or obese. That’s around 1.2 million children and adolescents. About 1 in 6 (17%) of children and adolescents were overweight but not obese while 1 in 12 (8.2%) were obese.

Results were similar for boys and girls across the age groups

Adults

In 2017–18, 2 in 3 (67%) of Australians aged 18 and over were overweight or obese. Put another way, approximately 12.5 million adults were overweight or obese. About 1 in 3 (36%) adults were overweight but not obese, and about 1 in 3 (31%) were obese. About 1 in 10 (11%) adults were severely obese, which is defined as having a BMI of 35 or more.

While more men than women were overweight but not obese (42% compared with 30%), similar proportions of men and women were obese (33% of men and 30% of women) (Table S.5). The distribution of BMI is different between men and women, showing that overweight and obesity is differently distributed among men and women (see BMI calculator).

Across age groups, the proportion of men who were overweight but not obese was similar. While women were more likely to be overweight but not obese at older ages (age 65–74) when compared with women in the younger age groups (18–24 and 25–34). 

Obesity is more common in older age groups—about 1 in 6 men (18%) and 1 in 7 women (14%) aged 18–24 year were obese, compared with 2 in 5 men (42%) and women (39%) aged 65–74.

Waist circumference

In 2017–18, 60% of men and 66% of women aged 18 and over had a waist circumference that indicated an increased or substantially increased risk of metabolic complications. The proportion of adults with a waist circumference that indicated a substantially increased risk of metabolic complications increased with age.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

In 2012–13, nearly 1 in 3 (30%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian children and adolescents aged 2–14 were overweight or obese. One in 5 (20%) Indigenous children and adolescents aged 2–14 were overweight but not obese, while 1 in 10 (10%) were obese (ABS 2014). At age 15–17, 35% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian adolescents were overweight or obese. About 1 in 5 (21%) Indigenous adolescents aged 15–17 were overweight but not obese, while about 1 in 7 (14%) were obese.

Among Indigenous boys, 18% were overweight but not obese and 10% were obese at age 2–14, while 21% were overweight but not obese and 17% were obese at age 15–17. Among Indigenous girls, 21% were overweight but not obese and 11% were obese at both age 2–14 and age 15–17.

In 2012–13, more than two-thirds (69%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 18 and over were overweight or obese. Put another way, approximately 215,000 Indigenous adults were overweight or obese (ABS 2014). About 1 in 3 (29%) Indigenous adults were overweight but not obese, while 40% were obese.

While more Indigenous men than Indigenous women were overweight but not obese (32% compared with 27%), more Indigenous women than Indigenous men were obese (43% compared with 36%).

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2014. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: updated results, 2012–13. ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.006. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2018. National Health Survey: first results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. AIHW customised data request.