New data reveals Aussies’ weight gain over Christmas


Alcohol campaign

The festive season is typically a time when Australians over-indulge. New data released by the Cancer Council WA reveals that about two fifths of Australians put on weight over the Christmas period.

The 2019 Shape of Australia survey involved more than 2,000 Australians and found that two fifths gained weight over Christmas, with an average weight gain of almost 3 kilograms.[1]

The survey showed that males put on more weight than females during the Christmas period, while those aged 35-54 gained most weight across the festive season.

The data is released to coincide with the start of Cancer Council’s latest LiveLighter campaign which aims to encourage Western Australians who drink to reduce their alcohol consumption behaviour during the festive season.

The digital campaign, which compares alcohol with junk food, aims to raise awareness of the significant number of kilojoules contained in many alcoholic drinks.

Cancer Council WA’s Cancer Prevention and Research Director Melissa Ledger said: “We know that during the festive period there are a lot of situations where we find ourselves consuming large amounts of unhealthy food and drink, including workplace and family celebrations, and these occasions add up resulting in many of us gaining weight.

“We don’t want to be the Christmas Grinch, but many people just aren’t aware of how many kilojoules are in alcoholic drinks, so this campaign may be a surprise for many, who may cut back as a result.

“The campaign highlights this by comparing alcoholic beverages to junk food, which we all associate with being unhealthy and full of fat, sugar and salt.

“For example, drinking four cans of pre-mixed spirits is equivalent to eating 21 chicken nuggets, and consuming two cans of low-carb beer has the same number of kilojoules as a chocolate bar.”

LiveLighter analysed that you could potentially gain 1.5kg if you drank 2 bottles of cider each day over the festive period (1 month).

Alcoholic beverages are energy-dense products which have little to no nutritional value.

ABS data suggests that near half of all males (47%) and almost one in three females (30%) aged 51-70 years, and nearly 1 in 4 males (23%) aged 19-30 years, derive more than 5% of their total energy intake from alcohol. The general recommendation is that alcohol should make up no more than 5% of a person’s overall energy intake.[2] 

There is no safe level of alcohol when it comes to cancer. If you drink alcohol, drink no more than 2 standard drinks a day, and have alcohol-free days.

Ms Ledger added: “Drinking alcohol frequently leads to consumption of junk food too. Alcohol is often consumed in situations where junk food is present, leading to further energy intake.”

About LiveLighter:

LiveLighter is a public health education campaign encouraging Australians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink and being more active.

In Western Australia, the LiveLighter campaign is delivered by Cancer Council WA and is funded by the State Government of Western Australia. For more information visit

[1] LiveLighter’s annual Shape of Australia survey (2019) analysed the health, nutrition and physical activity behaviours of more than 2,000 Australians aged 18-55

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Australian Health Survey; Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12, Commonwealth of Australia. Available here