Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data
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Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Media Release - 16 November 2020

Australia has the second highest rate of obese men among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), placing them just behind the United States, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Australian women fared better, ranking eighth in terms of obesity, just behind New Zealand and Hungary.
The report, International health data comparisons 2020, compared health and health care data across OECD countries, focusing on Australia’s performance.

The Heart Foundation said the findings were a concern for Australians’ heart health.
Findings include:
  • Aussie men are the second most obese in OECD countries - Aussie men have the second highest rates of obesity (32%) among 23 OECD countries, behind the USA (38%).
  • Aussie women fared better than men but are still obese at a higher rate than the OECD average. The proportion of obese women in Australia was 8th highest out of 23 countries - 29% compared to the OECD average of 25%.
  • Aussies over the age of 15 drank an average of 9.5 litres of alcohol per capita in 2019 - Australia was in 18th position but our alcohol consumption was still higher that the OECD average of 8.8 litres per person.
  • Fewer smokers - Australia had the 6th lowest proportion of daily smokers among people aged 15 and over (11.2%), with Greece ranking highest, at 35%.
  • Our life expectancy at birth was 82.8 years – above OECD average of 80.7 years and 7th highest among OECD countries. The highest life expectancy was in Japan, where people could expect to live 84.2 years.

Heart Foundation comment

Heart Foundation Risk Assessment manager, Natalie Raffoul, said the report revealed that overweight and obesity levels were a global problem, and the findings were consistent with what we know about Australian trends.

“This is another reminder for Australians that their risk factors for heart disease are too high,” Ms Raffoul said.

“Being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. We know that two in every three Australian adults (67.0%) are overweight or obese, and there are no signs that this trend is about to change.

“Around 95 per cent of Australians are not eating the recommended five serves of vegetables per day and we are eating too many discretionary foods such as cakes, biscuits, fried foods and fast foods.  

“At the same time, more than 80 percent of Australian adults are not doing enough physical activity to meet physical activity guidelines, with close to one in five doing no physical activity at all. 

“While life expectancy in Australia is increasing, previous research shows we are living longer in poorer health, and many of our risk factors for heart disease continue to climb.”

“More positively, the report shows we have one of the lowest daily smoking rates among OECD nations. Australia had the sixth lowest number of people who smoke daily.”

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