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Trends: Children

Trends in Australian children

Last updated 06-06-2019

One in four Australian children were overweight or obese in 2017–18. The percentage of obese Australian children aged 7 to 15 years tripled between 1985 and 1995.

Key Evidence

01

16.7% of Australians aged 2 to 17 years are overweight and 8.2% are obese

02

20.2% of boys aged 16 to 17 years are overweight and 10.7% are obese

03

35.7% of Australians aged 2 to 17 years in outer regional and remote Australia are overweight or obese

04

Overweight has increased from 10.2% (1985) to 20.6% (2014) among Australians aged 7 to 15 years

Weight status

Children aged 2–17 years.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. 2018.

Underweight Normal weight Overweight Obese

Overweight and obesity by age and gender

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. 2018. Data table 16.1.

Note: In 2017-18, 43.9% of respondents aged 2-17 years did not have their height, weight or both measured. For these respondents, height and weight were imputed using a range of information including self-reported height and weight.

Overweight but not obese Obese

In 2017–18, one quarter (24.9%) of children aged 2 to 17 years were overweight or obese – 16.7% were overweight and 8.2% were obese. Rates of overweight and obesity varied by age group and gender.1

Overweight and obesity by location

Children aged 2–17

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017.

% overweight or obese

In 2014–15, there were higher rates of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–17 years living in outer regional and remote areas, compared to those living in major cities.

Trends in overweight and obesity

Xu J, Hardy LL, Guo CZ, and Garnett SP. The trends and prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity among Australian school-aged children, 1985–2014. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2018; 54(8):907-912.

Overweight Obese Morbidly obese

The percentage of overweight Australian children aged 7 to 15 years doubled between 1985 and 2014. The percentage of obese Australian children aged 7 to 15 years tripled between 1985 and 1995 from 1.6% to 4.7%, before plateauing between 1996 and 2014. The percentage of children who were morbidly obese increased from less than 1% in 1985 and 1995, to 2% in 2007 where it has remained stable.2

References

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. 2018. Data table 16.1. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/
2. Xu J, Hardy LL, Guo CZ, and Garnett SP. The trends and prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity among Australian school-aged children, 1985–2014. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2018; 54(8):907-912.