WH&Y authors: Professor Louise Baur

Citation: Kim S, Lewis JR, Baur LA, Macaskill P, Craig JC. Obesity and hypertension in Australian young people: Results from the Australian Health Survey 2011 to 2012. Int Med J 2017; 47:162-169. doi:10.1111/imj.13298



Background: Few studies have focused on the prevalence of obesity and hypertension among young people (ages 15–24).

Aim: To characterise the prevalence of obesity and systolic hypertension in young people aged 15–24 years across Australia.

Methods: Using data from the 2011–2012 Australian Health Survey, a national cross‐sectional population‐based survey, we included 2163 young people aged 15–24 years. Risk factors were estimated using multinomial logistic regression.

Results: The prevalence of obesity increased from 8% to 15% through the ages of 15–24 among males, but the prevalence of overweight and obesity were both 14% for females across all age groups. Low levels of physical activity were a strong risk factor for obesity for both males (odds ratio (OR) 5.95, 95% confidence intervals (CI)1.83–19.36) and females (OR 3.20 95% CI 0.69–14.87). Low socioeconomic status was associated with obesity among females only (first quintile OR 4.65, 95% CI 1.97–10.99). Although the prevalence of hypertension was low (4% males, 3% females), the prevalence of high normal blood pressure was substantial, especially among males (28% males, 14% females).

Conclusions: Overweight, obesity and high normal blood pressure were highly prevalent among Australian young people. Low levels of physical activity were identified as a risk factor for obesity for both male and females. Programmes targeting physical activity participation may need to be tailored differently for males and females, with a focus on females during early adolescence but early adult life for males.

About The Authors


Louise Baur is Professor and Head of Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Sydney and Hea...