Obesity data

This page is no longer routinely updated as of the 30th June 2016. 

Prevalence and patterns of overweight and obesity

International prevalence

Global Database on Body Mass Index (2014): WHO provides both national and sub-national adult underweight, overweight and obesity prevalence rates by country, year of survey and gender. 

Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980—2013:

  • The burden of a high BMI has increased in the past 23 years worldwide
  • The proportion of adults with a BMI of 25 kg/m² or greater increased from 28.8% to 36.9% in men and from 29.8% to 38.0% in women.
  • In children and adolescents, the prevalence of overweight or obesity has also increased, from 8.1% to 12.9% for boys, and from 8.4% to 13.4% in girls.

Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013

The Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factor study 2013 (GBD 2013) was Published Online: 10 September 2015 in The Lancet. It reports that:

  • A high BMI was the leading risk of chronic disease for most countries including Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, most of North Africa and the Middle East and North and South America with only three exceptions Canada, Guatemala and Uruguay
  • The global attributable burden of high BMI has increased in the past 23 years
  • In Australia, in terms of attributable disability-adjusted life years, these are the top 10: (1) high BMI, (2) smoking, (3) high blood pressure, (4) high fasting plasma glucose, (5) alcohol use, (6) low glomerular filtration, (7) high cholesterol, (8) drug use, (9) low physical activity and (10) diet low in whole grains.
Australian prevalence

ABS National Health Survey 2014-15:

  • In 2014-15, 63% of Australian adults were overweight or obese. This is similar to the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 2011-12 (63%) and an increase since 1995 (56%).
  • Around one in four (27%) children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese, similar to 2011-12 (26%).    

Australian Health Survey 2011-12:  data on overweight and obesity for adults and children

AIHW Australian data overview- 3 in 5 adults and 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese

Australia's health tracker by area - 2016 This digital platform hosts a series of maps and filters which provide localised data on chronic diseases and their risk factors, including obesity, at the local government, primary health network, population and state level.

NHPA (2013)  Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2011–12 by state and by Medicare Local area

National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey- the large majority of Australian adults do not meet the full physical activity guidelines and/or report excessive sedentary behaviour. 

Projection of older Australians with a history of midlife obesity and overweight 2010-2050 The number of persons aged 65 years and over having a history of midlife obesity is projected to increase nearly six-fold

Australian prevalence: children and young people

Childhood obesity (2007-2012)- rates show that unhealthy weight ranges in children plateauted. 

Australian adolescents (2008)- overweight or obese adolescent boys are at a higher risk of chronic conditions. BMI better indicator predictor of metabolic risk factors than waist circumference.

Australian young offenders serving community orders- CVD and fatty liver disease risk factors significantly associated with overweight and obesity among boys not girls.   

Costs of overweight and obesity

The Sax's Institute's 45 and Up Study- obesity sending over 45's to hospital at a cost of $4 billion per year.

Lifetime direct medical costs of childhood obesity- the review found that the lifetime medical cost for an obese child is $19,000.

Australian prevalence projections and economics costs of obesity: financial cost of obesity in 2008 was estimated at over $8 billion, projections to 2028 show an increasing increase in obesity rates.

Costs of managing conditions associated with obesity among Australian teenagers- short-term management of health consequences of overweight and obesity will increase Medicare expenditure by at least 48%.  

Burden of overweight and obesity- high BMI was responsible for 7.2% of morbidities and 7.5% of mortalities. 

Health care costs for overweight and obese Australians- the total annual direct cost in 2005 was $21 billion.