Overweight and obesity is a major public health issue in Australia. It results from a sustained energy imbalance - when energy intake from eating and drinking is greater than energy expended through physical activity. This energy imbalance might be influenced by a person’s biological and genetic characteristics, and by lifestyle factors.
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 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. You can quickly check whether your weight is in a healthy range using our BMI calculator here.
The following standard BMI cut-off points are used for people aged 18 and over:
- Healthy weight 20 - 25
- Overweight 25 - 30
- Obese 30 - 35
- Severely Obese 35 - 40
- Morbidly Obese 40 +
Some key Australian obesity statistics:
- Almost 2 in 3 Australian adults were overweight or obese in 2014-2015
- 28% of Australian adults were obese in 2014-2015, an increase from 19% in 1995
- 1 in 4 Australian children (aged 2-17) were overweight or obese in 2014-2015
- In 2014-2015 there were 22,700 hospital admissions for weight loss surgery in Australia (more than double that of 2005-06 - about 9,300)
- In 2017-18, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey showed that two thirds (67.0%) of Australian adults were overweight or obese (12.5 million people), an increase from 63.4% in 2014-15. The National Health Survey also indicated that almost one quarter (24.9%) of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese in 2017-18 (17% overweight and 8.1% obese).
Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Australian Government, Department of Health