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Increase in overweight and obesity in young adults

20 / 11 / 19

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey reports that 46% of young people aged 18-24 have a BMI over 25 and this is up from 39% since the 2014-15 figures - an 18% increase. This represents just over a million young people. Of these almost 350,000 are classified as obese- 15.5% had a BMI of 30 or more.

This upward trend in overweight and obesity in young adults reflects the broader increases in all adults reported by the ABS between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 health surveys, although the increase has been more marked in young adults. The proportion of adults with a BMI over 25 increased from 63.4% to 67% - two thirds of adults are now above a healthy weight as measured by BMI.

The increase in adults with BMI over 25 is mainly driven by the increase in obesity rather than overweight. The proportion of adults classified as obese (BMI 30+) increased from 27.9% to 31.3%, whereas the proportion of those classified as overweight (BMI 25-29) has remained stable since 1995.

In the 2017-18 survey, adults living in regional and remote Australia were more likely to be overweight (72%) than those living in major cities (65%). The proportion of overweight and obese increased with relative disadvantage: 71.8% of adults living in areas of most disadvantage were overweight or obese compared to 62.6% of those living in areas of least disadvantage.

Late-breaking news

The Australian Government has commenced a consultation on a national obesity strategy to be developed by the Australian Federal, state and Territory governments to address the significant public health challenge posed by obesity. Submissions close on 15 December.