Trends in BMI of urban Australian adults, 1980–2000

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Walls, H. L, Wolfe, Rory, Haby, M. M, Magliano, D. J, de Courten, Maximilian, Reid, C. M, McNeil, J. J, Shaw, J and Peeters, A (2009) Trends in BMI of urban Australian adults, 1980–2000. Public Health Nutrition, 13 (5). pp. 631-638. ISSN 1368-9800 (print) 1475-2727 (online)


Objective To analyse changes in the distribution of BMI in Australia between 1980 and 2000. Design Data were from the 1980, 1983 and 1989 National Heart Foundation Risk Factor Prevalence Study, the 1995 National Nutrition Survey and the 1999/2000 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Survey participants were aged 25–64 years and resident in Australian capital cities. BMI was calculated as weight divided by height squared (kg/m2), where weight and height were measured using standard procedures. Results Mean BMI was higher in 2000 than 1980 in all sex and age groups. The age-adjusted increase was 1·4 kg/m2 in men and 2·1 kg/m2 in women. The BMI distribution shifted rightwards for all sex and age groups and became increasingly right-skewed. The change between 1980 and 2000 ranged from a decrease of 0·04 kg/m2 at the lower end of the distribution for men aged 25–34 years to an increase of 7·4 kg/m2 at the higher end for women aged 55–64 years. While the prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) doubled, the prevalence of obesity class III (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) increased fourfold. Conclusions BMI in urban Australian adults has increased and its distribution has become increasingly right-skewed. This has resulted in a large increase in the prevalence of obesity, particularly the more severe levels of obesity. It will be important to monitor changes in the different classes of obesity and the extent to which obesity interventions both shift the BMI distribution leftwards and decrease the skew of the distribution.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1017/S1368980009991455
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1111 Nutrition and Dietetics
Historical > FOR Classification > 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords obesity, body mass index, trends, Australia
Citations in Scopus 52 - View on Scopus
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