Overweight and obesity

In 2015, 8.4% of the disease burden in Australia was due to overweight and obesity, making it the second leading risk factor contributing to disease burden after tobacco use.

These estimates reflect the amount of burden that could have been avoided if all people in Australia were in the normal weight range (body mass index of 20 to 25).

Overweight & obesity contributed to the burden of 30 diseases including: 17 types of cancer, 4 cardiovascular diseases, 3 musculoskeletal conditions, type 2 diabetes, dementia, asthma and chronic kidney disease (see Supplementary tables).

How much burden was attributable to overweight and obesity?

Overweight & obesity contributed 54% of the type 2 diabetes burden, 44% of the osteoarthritis burden, 40% of the chronic kidney disease burden, 25% of the coronary heart disease burden, 24% of the asthma burden and 21% of the stroke burden.

Note that the following visualisation displays the top 10 linked diseases due to overweight & obesity.

There was a 27% increase (85,984 DALYs) in total burden attributable to overweight and obesity between 2003 and 2015. This was driven by a 22% increase due to population growth, an 11% increase due to population ageing, and an 11% increase due to changes in exposure to overweight and obesity.

Between 2003 and 2015, all disease groups linked to overweight and obesity increased in overall total burden except for cardiovascular diseases, which decreased by 8%. This was driven by a 47% decrease due to changes in linked disease burden.

Among linked disease groups, the greatest percent change in overall total burden attributable to overweight and obesity was a 163% increase in neurological conditions driven by increases due to changes in overweight and obesity exposure, linked disease burden, population growth and population ageing.

How did burden attributable to overweight and obesity vary by age?

Overweight & obesity contributed to disease burden across all age groups, however asthma was the only disease linked to overweight & obesity in children aged less than 15 years.

In males aged 35–84 years, the most burden due to overweight & obesity was from coronary heart disease. By comparison, the most burden due to overweight & obesity in females aged 45–84 years was from osteoarthritis.

Did attributable burden vary by socioeconomic group?

Disease burden attributable to overweight & obesity was 2 times greater in the lowest (most disadvantaged) socioeconomic group compared with the highest (least disadvantaged) group.

How has disease burden due to overweight and obesity changed over time?

The rate of total burden due to overweight & obesity (from all linked diseases) decreased by 5% between 2003 and 2015 (from 15.6 DALY to 14.9 DALY per 1,000 population). For more detail on the changes in burden over time for this risk factor see Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015 detailed report.