At a glance
In 2020, based on measured height and weight in 2017–18, it was estimated:
- 220,000 (24.6%) children and 2.6 million (65.9%) adults were overweight or obese.
- 140,000 (15.9%) children and 1.3 million (33.5%) adults were overweight, 70,000 (8.3%) children and 1.3 million (32.4%) adults were obese.
In 2022, based on self-reported and parent-reported height and weight:
- Adults and children living in the most disadvantaged and remote areas were more likely to be overweight or obese.
- Self-reported obesity increased by 41.3% between 2004 and 2022 in the Queensland adult population.
Overweight and obesity are complex public health challenges. Many factors contribute to unhealthy weight, including genes and family history, social and environmental factors, lifestyle behaviours, some medicines, and health conditions a person may have, or had previously.
Significant health burden to the individual and healthcare system is attributable to overweight and obesity. The health impacts for adults of overweight and obesity include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions, and cancer. Obesity when developed during childhood can have physical and psychological health impacts and is strongly associated with obesity in adulthood.1
National figures show:
- In 2018 overweight and obesity accounted for 8.4% of the total burden of disease (DALY).2
- The estimated healthcare costs attributable to obesity ranged from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion per year (in 2016–17 dollars). The corresponding annual costs from productivity loss due to obesity ranged from $0.84 billion to $14.9 billion.3
Measured weight and height are routinely collected in the National Health Survey (NHS) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), most recently in 2017–18 and 2018–19, respectively. Self-reported height and weight for Queenslanders are collected annually by telephone interview on a larger sample of the Queensland population. Body mass index (BMI) based on measured height and weight is more accurate than self-reported height and weight, but it is costly and therefore collected less frequently, and a third of adults and almost half of children decline to be measured. In this report, trends are based on self-reported weight status because it is collected more often so more useful to assess relative changes over time. The larger sample of self-reported height and weight allows reporting for some subgroups.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the adult Queensland population is high. Based on measured height and weight from the 2017–18 NHS, two-thirds of adult Queenslanders were overweight (33.5%) or obese (32.4%) (See technical notes).
Almost two-thirds (61.9%) of Queensland adults were overweight (34.4%) or obese (27.5%) in 2022, based on self-reported height and weight.
Overweight and obese adults were more likely to be:
- live in more disadvantaged or remote areas.
There is a strong relationship between self-reported overweight and obesity and where adult Queenslanders live. In 2022, adults living in the most disadvantaged areas were more likely to be obese than adults living in the most advantaged areas. Adults living in remote areas of Queensland were more likely to be obese than those living in Queensland’s major cities (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Adult self-reported weight status in Queensland, 2022
Children and youth
Based on measurements taken in the 2017–18 NHS, about one-quarter of children were overweight (15.9%) or obese (8.3%). Based on parent-reported height and weight, in 2022 about one-quarter (26.0%) of children living in Queensland were overweight (18.0%) or obese (8.0%).
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Queensland children 5 to 17 years is relatively high compared to other Australian states, and has remained about the same for almost a decade.
Overweight and obese children were more likely to be:
- live in more disadvantaged or rural areas (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Child parent-reported weight status in Queensland, 2022
Based on measured height and weight from the four triennial ABS national health surveys:
- the prevalence of measured obesity in Queensland adults increased by 20% between 2007–08 and 2011–12 (from 25.0% to 30.0%), with no change since
- there was no change in any other weight category for Queensland adults.
Nationally, adult obesity prevalence was 24.4% in 2007–08, and steadily increased to 30.9% in 2017–18 (See technical notes). However, based on self-reported height and weight, the prevalence of obesity in Queensland adults continues to increase—by 41.3% between 2003 and 2022. The largest increases in the self-reported obesity prevalence over the period have been in the youngest adult age group (18 to 29 years) and in adults living in the most disadvantaged areas.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children, according to parent-reported height and weight measurements, has not changed between 2011 and 2022.
Figure 3: Trends in weight status in Queensland
The prevalence of adult overweight and obesity in Queensland did not differ from the national prevalence, based on measured height and weight in 2017–18. Among the states and territories, Queensland was ranked 7th for adult overweight and obesity prevalence. The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Queensland did not differ from the national prevalence in 2017–18. Among the states and territories, Queensland was ranked 7th for child overweight and obesity prevalence.4
Data and statistics
Summary results from the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) for Hospital and Health Services and other regions can be found within this report and more detailed and historical results can be accessed at Preventive health surveys.
For more statistics about weight status visit the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - Overweight and obesity: an interactive insight.
Strategies and information
For obesity strategies and information about maintaining a healthy weight see:
- The Department of Health and Aged Care National Obesity Strategy 2022–2032
- Health and Wellbeing Queensland Queensland Obesity Prevention Strategy
- My health for life to take a personal health check and learn more about healthy lifestyles.
- Cancer Council Queensland Maintain a healthy weight.
Section technical notes
Where presented, ratios were calculated using higher precision estimates than in text. Ratios calculated using estimates in text may differ.
Data for this section were sourced from:
- the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) (See Preventive health surveys for further information)
- the Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drugs Survey (ASSAD) (See Australian secondary school students alcohol and drug survey for further information)
- the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services (See Report on Government Services for further information).
At the time of publication, national comparisons more recent than 2017–18 were not available due to a COVID-related delay in the conduct of the ABS’s National Health Survey and the manner by which the data was collected. Further details can be found at National Health Survey: First Results methodology.
- World Health Assembly 70. 2017. Report of the commission on ending childhood obesity: implementation plan: report by the secretariat. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018. doi: 10.25816/5PS1-J259.
- Crosland P., Ananthapavan J., Davison J., Lambert M. & Carter R. 2019. The economic cost of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review of estimates and methods. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 43(5): 484–495. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12925.
- Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. 2023. Report on government services 2023. Accessed: 14 February 2023.
- Cole T.J. 2000. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ. 320(7244): 1240–1240. doi: 10.1136/bmj.320.7244.1240.