Fat chance: the battle of the bulge continues in Australia

05 November, 2012

Australians are smoking and drinking less but they are still putting on weight, with more than 60 per cent of the population deemed overweight or obese.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011-12 national health survey released on Monday is the biggest check-up on the nation's health undertaken by the agency.

It shows Australians aren't winning the battle of the bulge, with 63 per cent of the population overweight or obese.

The survey found 70 per cent of Australian men, 56 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children are classified as overweight or obese.

"Compared to four years ago the proportion of overweight adult Australians has increased by more than two percentage points," ABS first assistant statistician Dr Paul Jelfs said in a statement.

The news was better for smoking and drinking alcohol.

"Smoking rates are down across all age groups, particularly for people aged under 45," Dr Jelfs said.

But men were still more likely to smoke than women, at a rate of one in five men to one in seven women, and about 16 per cent of Australians smoke daily.

Some 19.5 per cent of people are drinking more than two standard drinks a day, down from 20.9 per cent four years ago.

And 82.4 per cent of Australians drink, with men outdrinking women 87.6 per cent to 77.3 per cent.

The figures released on Monday are the first results from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey.

More will be published over the next 18 months.