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Obesity Rates in Australia and Worldwide

Learn more about the rates of obesity in Australia and worldwide.
SPEAKER 1: This short video gives some facts and figures about the epidemiology of obesity. Around the world and in Australia, overweight and obesity is a major public health issue.
In 2017, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare produced a report giving a picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. They found that the groups more likely to be overweight were Indigenous Australians, people outside major cities, or in lower socioeconomic groups. They also found that nearly 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese, with the proportion of obese adults continuing to rise. And one quarter of children and adolescents are also overweight or obese. And obesity and overweight leads to higher likelihood of chronic conditions and death, and has high costs to the economy.
This map of the world shows data from the Our World in Data website. It shows the share of adults that were overweight or obese back in 1975. And you could see that some parts of the world did have up to 60% of adults being overweight or obese, but in many countries, the percentage was much lower.
If you now compare that with the data from 2016, then you can see that there are many countries who have the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese being more than 60%, 70%, and even more than 80%. So a really big increase over that time period in the percentage of adults classified as overweight or obese, Here, we have the percentage of people with obesity aged 15 and over by selected OECD countries. You can see that Australia comes in at number five with the highest percentage of people with obesity, after the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, and Hungary.
This graph is from the Our World in Data website. It shows the number of deaths by different risk factors around the world in 2017. You can see here that obesity comes in at number five highest risk factor for number of deaths, but you can also see that it interacts with some of the higher risk factors– that is, high blood pressure and smoking, and high blood sugar.
This graph, from the Our World in Data website, looks at the share of deaths that were attributed to obesity. And this is from back in 1990. And you can see that in many countries and areas around the world, the number of deaths attributed to obesity is relatively low.
However, if you compare that same data now for 2017, you can see that many countries and regions around the world have greater than 20% of their deaths attributed to obesity.
So what are some of the drivers of this increase in overweight and obesity around the world? One is changes in food and nutrition, decreases in physical activity levels and increased sedentary behaviour, and the obesogenic environment that we now live in. And these all interact with genetic and biological factors to influence one’s obesity susceptibility.
And this interesting data here from the Our World in Data website shows the percentage of adult men who are overweight or obese plotted against the daily supply of calories in that particular country. So you can see that countries where there’s a greater percentage of men who are overweight or obese were countries where the daily caloric supply was much greater. And you can see it particularly with the United States being the highest there, on the top right-hand corner.
Lack of physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour has certainly increased. And this is data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing the prevalence of insufficient physical activity among adults by age and sex. And you can see that a large percentage of people are not getting the physical activity that they need for health.
And lastly, this obesogenic environment. And that has been termed. And it’s one that describes an environment that promotes obesity amongst individuals and populations. It includes physical, economic, political, and sociocultural factors, and it occurs across the workplace, home and neighbourhood, the media influence, convenience food, portion sizes, and schools. And all of this really contributes to the obesity levels that we see in our society.
The references used for this talk are shown here.

Watch this short video providing some facts and figures about overweight and obesity in Australia and around the world.

Obesity Rates in Australia

Overweight and obesity are major public health issues in Australia and many other countries around the world. It will come as no surprise that obesity rates are rising and of concern we see these rates increasing not only in adults but in children and adolescents as well.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data,2 25% of children and the majority of adults in Australia are classified as having overweight or obese by body mass index.

1 in 4 (25%) children and adolescents were overweight in 2017-18. 2 in 3 (66%) adults were overweight or obese in 2017-18.

NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC) have developed a useful, interactive tool to explore rates across the world.

If you are not in Australia, do you know the rate and impact of obesity in your own country? Use the NCD-RisC tool and share it with us.


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