How Bad Is Australia’s Obesity Problem? This Interactive Map Bares All (And It Ain’t Pretty)

How Bad Is Australia’s Obesity Problem? This Interactive Map Bares All (And It Ain’t Pretty)
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Australians are getting fatter year on year, and it’s causing an avalanche of health problems that are tipped to only get worse as we waddle into the next decade. This interactive infographic shows how fat each state will get in the years to come…

The interactive map below was created by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) in collaboration with BakerIDI and The Conversation in a bid to highlight just how obese our nation is becoming:

Australia is getting fatter. Since 1980 rates of obesity have increased across the country and this infographic shows just how quickly obesity has become a major issue for Australia.

As the map shows, obesity levels in Australia are expected to balloon to around 35 percent in all states by 2015 if we continue down the same sedentary lifestyle path. Conversely, if everyone drank one less soft drink or glass of wine per day and added a 30-45 minute moderate-intensity walk to their daily exercise regime, obesity levels would drop to just 16-20 percent by 2025. This is still a far cry from 1980 when less than 10 percent of the nation was obese.

Another interesting factoid that the map highlights is Victoria’s fluctuating obesity levels: in 1995 it led the rest of the country in portliness but then fell behind NSW, South Australia and Queensland by 2007. (Must’ve been the influence of all those trendy fat-free yoghurt bars.)

You can see the map in action for yourself below:

The projected obesity rates were determined using the AusDiab data model which bases its estimates on recent measures of weight change.

“In this population, approximately one-fifth of those with normal weight or overweight progressed to a higher weight category within 5 years,” the AusDiab explains.

“Between 2000 and 2025, the adult prevalence of normal weight was estimated to decrease from 40.6 to 28.1% and the prevalence of obesity to increase from 20.5 to 33.9%.”

If you’re looking to lose weight, be sure to check out our Weight Loss tag for a bevy of healthy eating and exercise tips.

Mapping Obesity In Australia — Infographic [AusSMC]


  • I checked but it doesn’t appear to state their definition of obesity or normal weight or how determined.. Perhaps I just missed it on my phone

    • In the medical/health/fitness world, the terms normal, overweight and obese are defined – they’re based on BMI ranges. Look up BMI on wikipedia, and you should find a section defining those terms — note that the ranges are different for Aus vs UK vs US.

      • Which means that a lot of people who do gym weight training will all be classified as overweight to obese.

        But I refuse to take any doctor seriously if they use BMI as a tool.

        • This is so true – BMI is a disastrously inaccurate measuring tool for health. Fitness and weight have very little in common.

          • Oh God not this old chestnut, it’s the modern day version of “large stomach bones”, on an indiveual bassis IF the subjext has high muscle mass then BMI can be inaccurate but with a large sample size assuming your not measuring the Bulgarian weight lifting team it is a good indicator.

        • BMI is only one tool that should be used in conjunction with a physical examination. No doctor is going to look at someone with a six-pack and declare them overweight.

          In regards to statistics, it’s currently the best tool available; you have to draw the line somewhere.

          Have fun being fat / seeing a shonky doctor.

  • Before the predictable comment avalanche of ‘eat less, you fatsos’, has there been any meaningful study recently into the effect of added processed sugar in food ?
    Sugar is now in just about every foodstuff, including foods that don’t even need it – fruit juice for example.
    I seem to recall a study done on it in the 80’s, titled Pure, White and Deadly , outlining the considerable negative impact white sugar had on the human body but I confess not keeping up with recent publications.
    Whilst lifestyles have changed over the last few decades, there has been a strong sedentary element in Western society for many decades – office work, watching TV, evenings down at the pub, and people sure as hell weren’t doing 45 mins of power walking every day.
    Yet it seems to be in the last 20 years we are reporting more problems with child health, and blaming it on game consoles is just an easy cop out – kids used to watch TV as long as you would let them, so no change there.

    Anyway, just my 2c worth.

    • Yes there has, well, indirectly.

      Sugar spikes insulin levels. Insulin is one of the chemicals that helps your body store energy for later, that energy is either stored as lipids (fats) or synthesized with protein for muscle growth.

      So as people are eating more sugar, therefore spiking their insulin, they gain more weight. You also have to remember that these additional sugars are adding more calories to each dish compared to their older counter-parts.

      Food isn’t as nutrient dense as it used to be.

  • Cheap and easy to acquire high energy food is the issue. You can buy a “meal” from any of the fast food places for less than a sandwich from a normal place. We live in a strange time where the rich are thin and tanned while the poor are fat and pale. The opposite of pre-industrial people where the poorer people were out working outside getting trim and tanned while the idle rich laid about inside.

    • Not to mention the cascading effect the poor quality fast food has on mood, motivation and mental health. Contrast that with the cost of gyms or other health and fitness-related activities and you’ve got a winner.

      Strange times, indeed…

  • Fat shaming should become a new national sport

    Really though, imagine how empty the hospitals would be since the most common ailments are due to lifestyle choices, the farmer wouldn’t need to work so hard growing cattle (which puts tremendous strain on resources), there’d be enough food to feed the entire world and chairs everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief

    • Though this is a joke:

      It’s much like crime – you take a normal person doing an activity that was once perfectly normal, and you assign a label to it as though its a blanket truth. Especially in this case, statistics point to people currently considered obese who are actually quite healthy bar the prevalence of heart disease – of which there is an equivalent risk (in a different way) with nearly every way of living.

      • But think of the elevators!

        This is just fat propaganda to justify a poor lifestyle
        A sluggish body is the sign of a sluggish mind, obesity is a mild mental disorder
        It shows a lack of self restraint, a disregard for others by taking more than you need, and a lack of self respect by neglecting both your appearance and health

        Yes, BMI is not the most accurate way to measure health, but there are elevated health risks by resembling a beach ball. Having some fat is no problem, but being obese is a problem if you can’t run up a flight of stairs, how would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

        From your linked article “and almost one third of “obese” people have normal profiles”
        So in other words, two thirds of obese people do not have normal metabolic profiles vs a quarter of regular weight people
        66% vs 25%
        that’s a lot, and when you herd it all together, it costs a lot to feed and it costs even more through healthcare, where are all these extra resources going to come from?

        Obesity is an economic nightmare, we’d need a few extra planets if everyone was obese. Think of how many shirts the tiny bangladeshi kids could make if they didn’t use it all on 8XL shirts.

        They’re also a safety hazard
        How are people supposed to evacuate a building quickly if a jumbo human blocks the entire corridor, the plodding of heavy footsteps could trigger a cascading structural collapse

        They make transportation difficult
        Airplanes wouldn’t have to fly tilted to compensate for the balance anymore!
        Think of how many seats would free up on the bus and train if fat people didn’t take up two seats.

        They have poor social lives
        You’ll just become the butt of jokes amongst your mates
        No woman would look at you twice, except to ponder how you escaped from the zoo or because your wallet popped out of your pocket

        We don’t want to hurt the feelings of fat people, but we do wish they’d stop hurting our eyeballs.

        • LOL wowww… While I agree (and exercise daily yayyy).. You seem to have some issues with fat people. I think family guy made an episode about this exact situation..

      • There are many more associated health risks to obesity other than heart disease. What you’re suggesting is something along the lines of “Car accidents are completely safe if you discount the fatalities”

        You cannot be healthy if you are obese. Simply being able to stand up and walk around and not have heart disease does not make you “healthy”. Your weight being in the normal range is a criteria of good health.

        Obesity normalisation is the problem that should be addressed here.

      • In addition, your claim that there is an equivalent risk of heart disease with nearly every way of living is laughable; take 5 seconds and google heart disease + smoking or + obesity or + diabetes.

    • Fat shaming should become a new national sport It already is, and look how well that’s working for us

  • Is it at all possible that global warming is a myth, and rising sea levels is just because we are all too fat and slowly pushing our countries deeper into the water?


    But on the serious problem of Obesity…

    Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to not review fast food and free breakfast from McFatties every day, and instead focus the health and food sections on quick and healthy snacks for the professional who doesn’t have time to prepare a gourmet meal before work.

    I like most of the articles on here guys, but for every article I see about fitting exercise into a busy lifestyle, I see twenty articles about how big macs look worse than they used to, or how free chips weren’t good enough for you…

    • Further on this, it seems unfair to pay you guys out on this without pointing to the real issue, that your pages are filled with amazing guides and articles for healthy living and exercise, but these rarely make the front page over the fatty food ones.

      As I said, I like the work you do, but perhaps a change in how articles are pushed to the front is in order.

      • Hi Todd, thanks for your feedback. All of our articles appear on the site in the order that they were published; there’s no favouritism going on.

        Takeaway Truth is a regular feature, which explains it’s prominence. (I wouldn’t say it encourages people to eat fast food though — most of the photos look awful!)

        • I understand what you mean Chris, but for example, let social media handle advertising the free McDonalds breakfast items, and what local fast food shop is handing out samples.

          It does seem a bit slack to target you and the rest of the staff in my ramblings, it isn’t like you are forcing fast food down people’s throats, but I can’t help but feel like I see more journalists talking about their favourite local burger, than talking about their favourite way to sneak a healthy snack or a jog into their work day.

          Might just be that I am reading the wrong sites for that sort of thing…

          As I said, I do like the majority of the articles, but it just seems to be a pattern I am noticing at the moment.

          • I appreciate where you’re coming from, but we need to cater to as many people as possible. Some like our takeaway posts while others (such as yourself) prefer the health hacks. We serve all types of readers.

            Plus. we usually mention the kilojoule damage in our fast food articles and advise caution when it comes to overeating.

  • How are they getting their data?

    Given that this is from a Heart & Diabetes Institute, I can’t help but think it’s largely from Medical Professionals. If that’s the case, wouldn’t their data be tipped towards the heavy set, since they are mere likely to get sick.

    I’ve seen more people around me move towards a healthier lifestyle in the past few years.

    So how exactly are they getting their data?

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