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Trends: Socio Economic Group

Socio Economic Groups

Last updated 06-06-2019

Australian women and children of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be overweight or obese than those of higher socioeconomic status. For Australian men, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is similar across socioeconomic groups.

Key Evidence

01

37.8% of girls aged 2 to 17 years in the lowest socioeconomic group are overweight or obese

02

72% of adult men in the lowest socioeconomic group are overweight or obese

03

Australians 2 years and older in the lowest socioeconomic group consume an average 2.62 serves of vegetables a day

04

40% of adults in the highest socioeconomic group had insufficient levels of physical activity

Overweight and obese children

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017. Supplementary Table 3.

Boys Girls All children

Australian children and adolescents in lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to be overweight or obese than those in higher groups. In 2014–15, for children and teenagers aged 2 to 17 years, one-third (32.7%) of boys in the lowest socioeconomic group were overweight or obese, compared with more than one in five (21.6%) of those in the highest socioeconomic group. Similarly, almost four in 10 (37.8%) girls in the lowest socioeconomic group were overweight or obese, compared with just one in four (23.5%) of those in the highest socioeconomic group.1 There are increasing socio-economic disparities in rates of obesity and abdominal obesity in Australian children, in a trend that can also be seen across the US and Europe.2

Overweight and obese adults

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017. Supplementary Table 10.

Men Women Persons

In 2014-15 for adults aged 18 years and over, more than six in 10 (61.2%) women in the lowest socioeconomic group were overweight or obese, compared with less than half (47.7%) of those in the highest socioeconomic group.

For men, the prevalence of overweight or obesity was similar across socioeconomic groups, ranging from 72% to 68.6%.3

In 2017-18 for both genders, seven in 10 (71.8%) adults living in areas of most disadvantage were overweight and obese compared to six in 10 (62.6%) adults living in areas of least disadvantage.4

Diet

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Nutrition across the life stages. Canberra, Australia 2018. Supplementary table S37
Note: Estimates were age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

SES Veg and legumes (serves per day) Fruit (serves per day)
Group 1 (lowest) 2.62 1.33
Group 2 2.66 1.43
Group 3 2.69 1.47
Group 4 2.71 1.68
Group 5 (highest) 2.81 1.76

In 2011-12, intake of vegetables and legumes and fruit was lowest among Australians aged 2 years and older living in the lowest socioeconomic areas, and highest among Australians living in the highest socioeconomic areas.

Physical activity

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Risk factors to health, 2017. Supplementary table 5.

Note: For 18-64 year olds, insufficient physical activity is defined as completing less than 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise across five sessions per week. For adults aged 65 years and over, insufficient physical activity is defined as completing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on at least 5 days each week.

Men Women Persons

In 2014-15, 62.6% of Australians in the lowest socioeconomic group had insufficient levels of physical activity. This compared to 40% of adults in the highest socioeconomic group.5

References

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017. Supplementary table 5. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/
2. Hardy LL, Mihrshahi S, Gale J, Drayton BA, Bauman A, et al. 30-year trends in overweight, obesity and waist-to-height ratio by socioeconomic status in Australian children, 1985 to 2015. International Journal of Obesity (2005), 2017; 41(1):76-82.
3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017. Supplementary table 10. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. 2018. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/
5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. 2017. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/