National Health Survey: We're taller... and fatter!


We're fatter, we don't exercise enough and we don't eat our greens. These are just a few of the key findings in the National Health Survey, released by the Bureau of Statistics today.

63.4% of Australian adults are now overweight or obese, a dramatic jump from 56.3% less than 20 years ago.

Even more concerning is that 66.6% of women and 60.3% of men have a "grabbable gut", a sure sign of too much "toxic fat" around the vital organs, which has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

"We're in for a bleaker future unless we all commit to changing our unhealthy ways," said Maurice Swanson, CEO of the Heart Foundation (WA Division).

"Only 8.3% of us eat the recommended 5 servings of vegetables each day. Adding more vegetables to your meals is a simple, nutritious way to feel fuller for longer, so you're not tempted by unhealthy snacks ," he said.

Many more Australian adults (48.3%) were shown to eat the recommended 2 servings of fruit each day, but Mr Swanson says people shouldn't be fooled into thinking fruit juices are a good choice.

"Most fruit juices are packed with sugar and contain very little fibre. Plain tap water is always best," he added.

Mr Swanson said he was encouraged by figures showing a decline in sedentary (inactive) behaviour, though 66.9% of adults still are not getting enough physical activity.

"Getting active isn't just about hitting the treadmill. Gardening, walking, swimming and housework all count as physical activity. Start by spending a bit more time doing the active things you already enjoy," he said.


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Report Snapshot

(Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12 – Australian Bureau of Statistics. Report available at: )

  • Between 1995 and 2011-12 the average weight for men increased by 3.9 kg (to 85.9 kg) for men and 4.1 kg (to 71.1 kg) for women.
  • In 2012-12, 60.3% of men aged 18 years and over had a waist circumference that put them at an increased risk of developing chronic disease (more than 94 cm), while 66.6% of women had an increased level of risk (more than 80 cm).
  • 63.4% of Australian adults are overweight of obese, up from 61.2% in 2007-08 and 56.3% in 1995.