New ABS Data: Aussies carrying five spare tyres’ worth of extra weight

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Doctor measuring a mans stomach.
Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey 2017-18 found the typical Australian is a non-smoker and has never smoked, does 42 minutes of exercise every day, is overweight or obese and does not eat enough vegetables.

New survey:

Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey 2017-18 found the typical Australian is a non-smoker and has never smoked, does 42 minutes of exercise every day, is overweight or obese and does not eat enough vegetables.

The 2017/18 National Health Survey also found more than two-thirds (67%) of Australian adults are overweight and obese, with the likelihood of this increasing with age. Men (74.5%) were more likely to be overweight or obese than women (60%).

Disturbingly, the findings suggest the largest increase in rates of overweight/obesity was for 18-24 years old, up from 39% in 2014-15 to just under 46% in 2017-18.

Heart Foundation comment:

“Overall, the National Health Survey results shows there has been little improvement in the health of Australians over the past decade,” Heart Foundation General Manager of Heart Health and Research, Bill Stavreski, said. “Poor diet and carrying extra weight are two key risks for heart disease, the leading killer of Australians.

“It is very concerning, that for the first time, Australian adults considered to be obese (5.82 million) are now close in numbers to those adults in a healthy weight range (5.92 million). 

“In a decade, we have seen the age standardised rate for obesity increase from 24.4% in 2007/08 to 30.8% in 2017/18.

“Close to 750,000 Australians are considered obese (BMI >40), carrying an extra 40 kilograms or five spare tyres’ worth of weight more than the upper limit of a healthy weight range (BMI<25).

“Yet the average Australian adult is also walking around with a spare tyre’s worth of weight; women carry on average an extra seven kilograms while the average male carries an extra 11.4 kilograms.

“We welcome the recent Senate report into obesity, addressing this critical health issue, leading the way towards further action.

“In other health measures, we have seen little or no change in the proportion of Australians with high blood pressure (>140/90hhMg), yet there are now 4.3 million Australians living with uncontrolled or unmanaged high blood pressure, putting them at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“The good news is we have seen a drop in the age standardised rate of smoking across the decade from 19.1% in 2007/08, down to 14% in 2017/18.  However, we can’t sit back and be complacent, and further investment is needed, in particular, tobacco control educational campaigns.”

For further interviews: Debora McInnes, Heart Foundation National Media Adviser. 

M: 0423 827 697, E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au