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Health risk factors

Weight

Overweight and obesity are important public health issues in Australia. Excess weight, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, back pain and some cancers. Body Mass Index (BMI) is an index of weight-for-height, used to classify people as underweight, normal weight (also referred to as 'recommended weight' on this website), overweight or obese (AIHW 2020b).

In 2018–19, based on measured height and weight of Indigenous children aged 2–14:

  • 54% (129,100) were within the recommended weight range, 24% (57,900) were overweight, 13% (30,200) were obese, and 9% (21,100) were underweight.
  • Similar proportions of boys and girls were within the recommended weight range (55% or 67,500 and 53% or 61,500, respectively) (Figure HR 7a).

In 2018–19, based on measured height and weight of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over:

  • 25% (133,500) were within the recommended weight range, 29% (152,900) were overweight, 43% (228,600) were obese, and 4% (20,800) were underweight.
  • 26% (67,800) of males and 24% (66,200) of females were within the recommended weight range.
  • 42% (20,800) of those aged 15–17 were overweight or obese compared to 82% (80,100) of those aged 55 and over (Figure HR 7b).
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In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over:

  • 46% (107,800) of males had a waist circumference that indicated a substantially increased risk of chronic illness.
  • 68% (171,300) of females had a waist circumference that indicated a substantially increased risk of chronic illness.
  • For both males (66% or 29,500) and females (83% or 43,400), those aged 55 and over were the most likely to have a waist circumference that indicated substantially increased risk of chronic illness (Figure HR 8).
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