Objectives: To determine whether awareness of the moderate physical activity message and prevalence of participation changed among Australian adults between 1997 and 1999, and if changes differed across Australia.
Methods: Data were compared on awareness of the moderate physical activity message and on physical activity participation from identical national physical activity surveys in 1997 and 1999.
Results: In 1999, following integrated public health efforts, recognition of the Active Australia campaign was substantially higher in NSW/ACT (61.7%) than elsewhere (29.3%). Knowledge about benefits of moderate activity increased between 1997 and 1999, more so in States with public health campaigns. National participation in 'sufficient physical activity' declined between 1997 and 1999, from 63% to 57%, but the decline was smaller in NSW/ACT (4.4%) than in the other States (6.0%).
Conclusions and implications: Declining trends in physical activity in Australia require increased public health investments, including strategic planning and public education, such as occurred in NSW (1997/98).