Department of Family and Community Services

4.4 Overweight and obesity

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Rate of overweight and obesity, people 16 years and over

Current position

Among NSW adults women are less likely than men to be overweight. 45 percent of women and 60 percent of men were overweight or obese in 2011.

Gender gap

  • Women are 15 percentage points less likely to be overweight or obese than men.
The direction of change over time

Since 1997, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of people aged 16 years and over who are overweight or obese.

As shown in Figure 2.7, the percentage increases over time have been greater among women in some age groups and among men in others.

Discussion

Older women have the highest rates of overweight and obesity among women, although
their rates are still lower than those of older men. 62 percent of 55 to 64-year-old women and 61 percent of 65 to 74-year-old women were overweight or obese in 2011 (see Figure 2.7). Menopause is a risk factor for weight gain.

In 2011, men aged between 35 and 74 years all had rates of obesity and overweight close to or above 67 percent.

Among school-aged children, the gender gap is much smaller than in the adult population. In 2010, 25 percent of Year 6 girls and 28 percent of Year 6 boys were overweight or obese. Looking at school age children across age groups (Years 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10) 23 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys were overweight or obese.

Girls are more likely to be underweight than boys. Eight percent of Year 10 girls and 4 percent of Year 10 boys were underweight in 2010.

People 18 years and over who are defined as overweight or obese have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25.0 or higher: overweight (BMI from 25.0 to 29.9) and obese (BMI of 30.0 and over). The cut-off points are slightly different for 16 and 17-year-olds. School-age children are classified into weight classes according to international standards. As people tend to over-report their height and under-report their weight, body mass figures of adults which are based on self-reported data are likely to be underestimates. Child data is based on physical measurement.


Year collected: Adult data: 2011 and previous years. Child data: 2010.
Data source: Adult data: NSW Adult Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI). Children data: the NSW Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. More information is available at www.healthstats.nsw.gov.au

Figure 2.7 Increase in adult overweight and obesity by age and sex, 1997 to 2011

Fig 2.7

Note: People 18 years and over who are defined as overweight or obese have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25.0 or higher. The cut-off points are slightly different for 16 and 17-year-olds.
Population: People aged 16 and over.
Source: Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence. Health Statistics New South Wales. Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health.