Overweight and Obesity in WA

Being above a healthy weight is a leading cause of preventable chronic disease (external site) with people that are overweight or obese at higher risk of many health problems including:

The number of people who are overweight or obese in a population is typically monitored using a simple tool called body mass index (BMI) (Healthy WA).

In 2018, 70% of Western Australian adults aged 16 years and over were classified as overweight (38.1%) or obese (31.9%), according to their BMI. This is a significant increase since 2002 and is mainly due to an increase in the number of people with obesity (up from 21.3%). Males were more likely than females to be overweight or obese (75.2% compared with 65.6%).

In 2018, one in four Western Australian children aged 5-15 years were overweight or obese, putting them at an increased risk of obesity and chronic disease in adulthood. Childhood obesity has remained steady since 2004.

Graphs: Obesity in adults and children 2002 - 2018

Source:  Western Australian Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System

Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are major contributors to overweight and obesity, but many factors (PDF 1MB) add to increasing rates of obesity in WA, particularly changes to the environment around us.

Illness from overweight and obesity cost WA hospitals $338.7 million in 2016, and it is estimated that this will rise by 80 per cent to $610.1 million in 2026 if increases in overweight and obesity continue.

As part of a comprehensive, whole of population approach, the Department of Health funds a number of state-wide programs, including LiveLighter®. LiveLighter® (external site), a social marketing campaign, encourages WA adults and their families to make healthier dietary choices and to be more active.

Last reviewed: 04-06-2020