The MyHealthyCommunities website is closing on 30 June 2019

Don’t worry – you can still find the latest information about your local area on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW)External link, opens in a new window.[https://aihw.gov.au] website, along with many more reports and data on a range of health and welfare topics.

Visit the Healthy community indicatorsExternal link, opens in a new window.[https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/indicators/healthy-community-indicators] page to use the new interactive tool to explore health topics including health risk factors, cancer, expenditure, and different population groups in your Primary Health Network (PHN) area.

In some cases, the way you find information has changed. If you need help finding anything, please contactExternal link, opens in a new window.[https://www.aihw.gov.au/contact-us] the AIHW.

Once the MyHealthyCommunities website closes, you will be able to access an archived version through TroveExternal link, opens in a new window.[https://trove.nla.gov.au/], the National Library of Australia’sExternal link, opens in a new window.[https://www.nla.gov.au/] web archive. Please note the interactive content will not work in the archived version.

Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2014–15 - Report - Key findings

Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2014–15

Download Report (PDF, 1.8 MB)

Key findings

Australian adults who are overweight or obese

In 2014–15, an estimated 11.2 million (63.4%) Australian adults were overweight or obese — 6.3 million (35.5%) were overweight but not obese and 4.9 million (27.9%) were obese. 3

Overall, a higher percentage of men (70.8%) were overweight or obese than women (56.3%). 3

The percentage of adults who were overweight or obese generally increased with age. Rates were highest for those aged 55–64 years (74.7%), followed by the 65 years and over (72.2%) age group. The lowest rates were for adults aged 18–24 years (38.9%).

Variation across Australia

In 2014–15 across PHN areas in Australia that could be measured, Country SA PHN area had the highest percentage of overweight or obese adults (73.3%, almost three in four people). This was compared with Northern Sydney PHN area with the lowest rate of overweight or obese adults at 53.4%, or just over half (Figure 2).

Four PHN areas had overweight or obesity rates of 70% or more, indicating an opportunity for targeted efforts to reduce rates in these areas.

Figure 2 maps the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese by PHN areas in Australia in 2014–15.

In this report, 95% confidence intervals have been used in the presentation of data to show the range in which the rate of overweight or obese adults is likely to occur in a PHN area. Many of the confidence intervals for PHN areas overlap and this should be taken into consideration when interpreting the ranking of the PHN areas. Where the 95% confidence intervals overlap it is not possible to say with certainty that there are differences between the areas being compared.

There are a number of factors that influence whether someone is overweight or obese, such as age, gender and socioeconomic status. These factors may explain some of the variation seen across PHN areas in Australia. It is important the information in this report is interpreted in the local context, taking into account knowledge of the local population and its needs.

Variation across metropolitan and regional areas

There are differences in the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese between PHN areas in metropolitan and regional locations.

In 2014–15, regional PHN areas generally had higher rates of adult overweight and obesity than metropolitan PHN areas. Overall, 68.5% of adults were overweight or obese in regional PHN areas, compared with 60.7% of adults in metropolitan PHN areas (Figure 2).

The five PHN areas with the highest rates of overweight or obese adults were all recorded in regional locations, while the five lowest rates were all in metropolitan PHN areas (Figure 2).

National performance benchmark

The Council of Australian Governments set a national performance benchmark for 2018, toincrease by five percentage points the proportion of Australians at a healthy body weight, over the 2009 baseline (36.9%). 6

Australia is not currently on track to meet this 2018 performance benchmark of 41.9%.6 In 2014–15, 35.0% of adults nationally were found to be in the healthy weight range. 3

Figure 2: National adult overweight and obesity rates

The following image is a map of Australia showing the national adult overweight and obesity rates by PHN area in 2014–15. Data can be found in the table below.

The following is a legend for the maps detailed on this page. The first row shows the various colour ranges, the second is the relevant colour's range value and the third indicates which end is highest and lowest.
NP
50.0 – 54.9%
55.0 – 59.9%
60.0 – 64.9%
65.0 – 69.9%
70.0 – 74.9%
Lowest group
Highest group
Primary Health Network boundary
CAPITAL CITY
Image showing the national adult overweight and obesity rates across Australia by PHN area.
The following is an image of maps around major cities showing the national adult overweight and obesity rates by PHN area in 2014–15. Data can be found in the table below.
The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
PHN area State Rate (%) 95% confidence interval
All Metro PHN areas - 60.7% 59.3–62.1
Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 66.9% 59.6–74.3
Eastern Melbourne Vic 65.9% 62.0–69.9
Western Sydney NSW 64.7% 55.7–73.7
Australian Capital Territory ACT 63.5% 60.9–66.0
Adelaide SA 63.0% 60.4–65.6
Brisbane South Qld 62.2% 58.0–66.4
Gold Coast Qld 61.3% 55.4–67.2
Perth South WA 60.0% 57.1–65.0
North Western Melbourne Vic 59.7% 57.0–62.3
South Eastern Melbourne Vic 59.3% 54.9–63.7
Brisbane North Qld 58.4% 53.1–63.7
South Western Sydney NSW 58.2% 52.5–64.0
Central & Eastern Sydney NSW 57.0% 53.5–60.4
Perth North WA 56.9% 52.1–61.6
Northern Sydney NSW 53.4% 49.7–57.0
All regional PHN areas - 68.5% 67.0–70.0
Country SA SA 73.3% 69.0–77.7
Western NSW NSW 71.1% 59.2–82.9
Darling Downs & West Moreton Qld 70.1% 63.8–76.3
Western Victoria Vic 70.1% 64.7–75.4
South Eastern NSW NSW 69.1% 58.8–79.3
Hunter New England & Central Coast NSW 68.4% 61.8–75.0
Murray Vic / NSW 68.2% 57.7–78.7
Tasmania Tas 67.5% 65.1–69.9
Central Qld, Wide Bay & Sunshine Coast Qld 66.9% 65.2–68.6
Country WA WA 66.6% 59.6–73.6
Northern Queensland Qld 65.7% 58.0–73.4
Northern Territory * NT 64.3% 60.4–68.1
North Coast NSW 59.7% 51.3–68.0
Gippsland Vic NP -
Murrumbidgee NSW NP -
Western Queensland Qld NP -
Total - 63.4% 62.4–64.4
95% confidence interval.
NP
Not available for publication but included in totals where applicable.
*
Interpret with caution: >25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities, and are excluded from the survey.
Notes:
Survey excludes adults living in non-private dwellings, very remote areas, and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
‘Metro PHN areas’ have ≥85% of the population in ‘major cities’, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. All others are classified as ‘regional PHN areas’.
Sources:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2014–15.

Australian adults who are obese

In 2014–15, an estimated 4.9 million (27.9%) adults were obese. 3 With more than one in four obese adults in the population, Australia ranks fifth highest for obesity rates amongst countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2

Overall, men (28.4%) and women (27.4%) had similar obesity rates. The percentage of adults who were obese generally increased with age. The highest rates were for people aged 55–64 years (35.9%) and 45–54 years (33.0%), around twice as high as those aged 18–24 years (17.1%) with the lowest obesity rates.

Variation across Australia

Obesity by itself showed wider variation than rates of overweight and obesity (combined) across PHN areas in Australia. In 2014–15, Country SA PHN area also had the highest obesity rate (38.1%) of the PHN areas that could be measured. This was more than twice the rate of Central and Eastern Sydney PHN area (16.0%) (Figure 3).

In 18 PHN areas across the country at least one in four adults (25%) were obese. Of these, five PHN areas had obesity rates of more than 34% in 2014–15 (Figure 3). The high rate of obesity in all PHN areas presents an opportunity for all areas to reduce obesity rates.

Variation across metropolitan and regional areas

The variation in the percentage of adults who were obese across metropolitan and regional PHN areas in 2014–15 was similar to that for adults who were overweight or obese.

Overall, 34.7% of adults in regional PHN areas were obese. This was compared with 24.3% of adults in metropolitan PHN areas.

Again, the five PHN areas with the highest obesity rates were all in regional locations while the five lowest rates were all recorded in metropolitan PHN areas (Figure 3).

How is body weight classified?

Overweight and obesity are commonly classified according to body mass index (BMI). This is used at the population level to assess the percentage of overweight and obese people aged 18 years and over. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres (kg/m2). The international classification 7 based on BMI is outlined below.

BMI =
weight in KG
height in M2
Underweight
<18.5
Healthy weight
≥18.5 to <25
Overweight
  ≥25   to <30
Obese
≥30

The classification of overweight and obesity in this report uses the measured height and weight of adult respondents in the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2014–15, excluding pregnant women. 3

Figure 3: Estimated adult obesity rates across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas, 2014–15

Visual representation of the data for estimated adult obesity rates across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas, 2014–15.

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
Metropolitan / regional grouping PHN area State Rate (%) 95% confidence interval
Regional Country SA SA 38.1 32.7–43.5
Regional Northern Queensland Qld 37.4 28.3–46.4
Regional Hunter New England & Central Coast NSW 36.6 30.4–42.7
Regional Western Victoria Vic 34.9 29.6–40.2
Regional Darling Downs & West Moreton Qld 34.9 27.5–42.2
Metropolitan Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 34.0 24.3–43.8
Regional Tasmania Tas 32.3 29.9–34.7
Regional Country WA WA 32.3 25.9–38.7
Regional Central Queensland, Wide Bay & Sunshine Coast Qld 32.1 27.4–36.9
Regional North Coast NSW 30.7 24.7–36.8
Regional Murray Vic/NSW 30.0 22.2–37.8
Metropolitan Brisbane South Qld 29.4 25.2–33.6
Regional Northern Territory * NT 29.0 25.2–32.8
Metropolitan Adelaide SA 27.1 24.5–29.8
Metropolitan South Western Sydney NSW 26.9 21.0–32.9
Metropolitan Western Sydney NSW 26.4 22.0–30.8
Metropolitan Brisbane North Qld 26.2 21.6–30.7
Metropolitan Eastern Melbourne Vic 25.7 21.5–29.8
Metropolitan North Western Melbourne Vic 24.8 21.6–28.1
Metropolitan Australian Capital Territory ACT 23.9 21.6–26.3
Metropolitan Perth South WA 23.4 20.3–26.5
Metropolitan Gold Coast Qld 22.8 19.0–26.6
Metropolitan Perth North WA 22.1 18.7–25.4
Metropolitan South Eastern Melbourne Vic 21.2 18.8–23.5
Metropolitan Northern Sydney NSW 18.4 13.4–23.4
Metropolitan Central & Eastern Sydney NSW 16.0 11.8–20.1
Regional Gippsland Vic NP -
Regional Murrumbidgee NSW NP -
Regional South Eastern NSW NSW NP -
Regional Western NSW NSW NP -
Regional Western Queensland Qld NP -
- All metropolitan PHN areas 24.3 23.2–25.4
- All regional PHN areas 34.7 33.2–36.2
- Total 27.9 26.9–28.8
image of the confidence interval
95% confidence interval.
*
Interpret with caution: &25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities, and are excluded from the survey.
NP
Not available for publication but included in totals where applicable.
Notes:
‘Metro PHN areas’ have ≥85% of the population in ‘major cities’, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. All others are classified as ‘regional PHN areas’.
Survey excludes adults living in non-private dwellings, very remote areas, and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Source:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2014–15.

2. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2015. Health at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD. Viewed 16 August 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/health_glance-2015-enExternal link, opens in a new window.

3. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2015. National Health Survey: First results, 2014–2015. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 20 September 2016, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001External link, opens in a new window.

6. COAG (Council of Australian Governments) 2016. Council of Australian Governments: Report on performance 2016. Canberra: COAG.

7. WHO (World Health Organization) 2000. Obesity: Preventing and managing the global epidemic. WHO Technical Report Series 894. Geneva: WHO.

Download Report (PDF, 1.8 MB)