15 Obesity Statistics Australia Should Know About (2021)

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It’s widely known that obesity is becoming a big health issue in many parts of the world. Despite its perfect weather, vast land, and surfable sea waves, it seems that the Land Down Under isn’t immune to this global weight problem either.

Unfortunately for Australia, the country is in the running as one of the most obese in the world. The current obesity rate in Australia is at an all-time high of 57%, which means Aussies are more likely to be overweight or obese than they are to be within a healthy BMI range! The rising Obesity trend in Australia can be attributed to several factors and lack of sleep is one of them (40% of Aussies don’t sleep the recommended 7 to 9 hrs!). 

With obesity statistics in Australia as bad as the ones discussed below, it comes as no surprise that the Government and Public Health Sector want to flatten the rising curve.

Key Obesity Statistics Australia in 2021

  • 1 in 3 Australian is Obese which equates to about 8.3 million Aussies (BMI above 30kg/m).
  • 14.56 million Australians are overweight or obese – this works out at 57.30% of the country’s entire population. Simply put One in two Aussie is overweight or obese (BMI above 25kg/m).
  • 2 in 3 Australian Adult is Obese or Overweight. To put in numbers, that’s 13.10 million or 67% of Aussie Adults.
  • Obesity affects 1 in 4 Aussie children and adolescents (2-17 years age) – that’s more than 1.46 million Australian children.
  • Australia ranks as the 5th highest OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country) for its obesity rates, falling short behind the USA.
  • Tasmania has the highest number of overweight people in Australia.
  • Aussie men, in particular, have the second highest rates of obesity among 23 OECD countries, working out at 32%.
  • Research has shown that those who move to Australia are more likely to become obese within 15 years of living in the country.
  • Obesity statistics in Australia show that the weight crisis costs the country $11.8 billion in food and medical expenses.
  • 140 premature deaths happen each day in Australia due to obesity-related illnesses.

The Raw Findings

1. Australia has an obesity epidemic

  • As of 2020, 2 in every 3 Australian adults (or 67%) are overweight or obese, with 36% of adults being overweight and 31% falling into the obese category! For reference, Australia considers adults with a BMI greater than 25kg/m overweight and 30kg/m obese.
  • The obesity rates in Australia have been steadily rising over the years, too, showing a 10% increase over the last 25 years – it’s clear that Australia’s obesity issues are getting worse.
  • Severe obesity among Australian adults has grown to 9%, which put in numbers is 2.2 million people.
Source: AIHW
Obesity Overweight Rate Australia

2. Obesity costs the average Australian $678!

  • Australia’s overweight population accounts for 8.6% of health expenditure and lowers labour market outputs by the equivalent of 371 thousand full-time workers per year. 
  • To cover the costs of the lowered labour outputs and excessive health expenditure, each Australian pays an additional AUD 678 in taxes per year – so as a whole, Aussies are paying out more, even if they personally aren’t overweight or obese!
Source: OECD

3. More Australians die from obesity than from smoking

  • Shockingly, in Australia, smoking causes a total of 20,000 deaths per year on average, compared to the 50,000 deaths from obesity-related diseases – that’s a total of at least 140 premature deaths due to obesity!
  • As a result of the obesity crisis, Australians live on average 2.7 years less than the world average, too. Unless these numbers improve, Australian obesity statistics are predicting 123,000 premature deaths a year over the next two decades, which works out at 73,000 more than the already high stats now.
Source: Cycle Helmets

4. Obesity is linked to over 60 chronic diseases

  • Obese people run a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers – the more excess weight a person carries, the higher the risks. 
  • Over 5.3% of Australian adults have type 2 diabetes, which works out at over 1 million people and there are around 16,700 deaths related to diabetes a year – this makes up 10.5% of all deaths in Australia! 
  • Obese people are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Source: AIHW

5. Australia’s men are some of the worlds most obese

  • Australian men are the third fattest in the world, losing the crown to the US and Chile. This shouldn’t come as a shock, as more than 70% of middle-aged Australian men are overweight!
  • As for the OECD countries, Aussie men are the second most obese coming in with high obesity rates of 32% – just behind the USA with 38%.

Source: Heart Foundation

6. Australia ranks as 5th most obese OECD country

  • The majority of Australia’s population is overweight or obese, marking the country as the fifth-highest for obesity rates in all the OECD countries, narrowly behind Mexico, the United States, New Zealand, and Finland.
  • Across the entire world, there are approximately 650 million obese individuals, which means Australia accounts for 4% of the global obesity statistics, yet the Australian population only makes up for 0.33% of the world’s population!

Source: Daily Mail

The causes of obesity within Australia

7. Bad sleep is a cause and effect of obesity

  • Being overweight has been shown to affect the healthiness of your sleep – obese individuals are more likely to suffer from problems such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, snoring, and hyperventilation.
  • Not only can being overweight affect your sleep, but a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, too! Studies claim that insufficient sleep is associated with a higher risk of obesity – this is because sleep-restricted adults show an increased hunger and calorie intake.
  • As 33-45% of Australians suffer from sleep issues, these individuals could very well be linked to the 67% of the population that is overweight.

Source: Very Well Health

8. Australians aren’t immune to emotional eating

  • Many Australians struggle to cope with their emotions, and so result in over-eating, also known as binge-eating. 
  • Around once a week, 1 in 10 Australians engage in some form of emotional eating, binge eating or out-of-control eating – in numbers, that’s 2.5 million individuals experiencing the emotional eating disorder.

Source: Weight Watchers

9. Findings show links with specific ages, genders, and classes to obesity

  • Globally, obesity has been linked to the lower class and poorer neighbourhoods – it’s said that due to the lack of wealth, the lower class can’t afford to buy fresh and nutritious foods.
  • Specifically, in Australia, men are more likely to be overweight than women. About 74.5% of Australian men were overweight, compared with 59.7% of women.
  • The average Aussie seems to let loose as they get older, as the Australian obesity statistics show a higher percentage of obesity rates in both men and women over the ages of 55. Obesity levels peak for men at age 55 to 64 years and for women at 65 to 74 years.

Source: Obesity Evidence Hub

Overweight Obesity Rate Age Group

10. A sedentary life is the leading cause of obesity in Australia

  • Australians spend on average 10 hours a day sitting! It’s been proven that sitting down too much can disrupt your body’s calorie-burning potential and increase your chances of weight gain or becoming overweight.
  • The link to sedentary lives and obesity comes as nearly 70% of Australian adults admit to having a sedentary or low activity level life, which correlates to the 67% of overweight Aussies.

Source: Get Australia Standing

11. Most obese individuals can’t just exercise their way to a sustainable weight

  • Obese people don’t have the calorie-burning capacity to exercise their way to a sustainable weight loss – this is because the excess weight can be too much of a strain on vital organs. 
  • Compared to those who don’t have excess weight, it is much harder for overweight individuals to exercise, even if both are doing the same amount of exercise.

Source: Washington Post

12. The media are partly to blame for the rising obesity levels in Australia

  • Psychologists at Yale University say the media could be to blame for Australia’s rising obesity rates, stating that over the years, magazines and newspapers have constantly used pictures of skinny models which have promoted eating disorders and emotional eating.
  • Yale psychologists also claim that photos and videos shown in the media that depict obese people negatively (like stuffing their faces with foods or lazing on a sofa) are actually pushing fat people toward even bigger bodies – this is down to the individuals feeling shamed by the media’s depiction of them.

Source: CBS News

Growing up in and moving to Australia vs obesity

13. Childhood obesity rates in Australia

  • Unfortunately, children aren’t immune to Australia’s weight crisis either. Around 1 in 6 children aged between 4 to 15 are classed as overweight and 1 in 14 in this age range are obese.
  • Obesity affects 25% of all Australian children and adolescents and without a quick intervention when young, it’s proven that they are likely to stay obese throughout their adulthood.

Source: AIHW

14. Teenage obesity rates in Australia

  • 1 in 4 Australian adolescents are overweight and those that fit into the obese category have a greater than 80% risk of becoming obese adults.
  • Hormone changes, in particular, can increase a teenagers chances of gaining weight and becoming overweight or obese. For females, gonadal hormone change results in a higher level of body fat which can be exaggerated in those that are already overweight.

Source: Rac GP

15. Immigrants who stay in Australia are more likely to have a high BMI

  • Studies suggest that male and female immigrants living in Australia for more than 15 years have significantly higher BMIs and increased odds of becoming obese, compared with immigrants that have lived in Australia for less than 5 years.
  • Those that spent 15 years in Australia had an average BMI of 27.3 for men and 26.4 for women, while those that spent 5 years in Australia had BMIs of 25.3 for men and 23.2 for women.

Source: NCBI

Conclusion

As you can see from the statistics listed above, Australia is indeed in the midst of an obesity crisis that is plaguing the world. Although the facts about obesity in Australia seem to be glaringly worrisome, the numbers are still consistently rising. Even with the ample amount of health effects obesity has been linked to already, predictions show the number of overweight Aussies rising to 80% within the next decade unless a drastic change is made. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the severity of obesity within Australia, you can start to make those changes.

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