Overweight, obesity and metabolic syndrome in rural southeastern Australia

Med J Aust. 2007 Aug 6;187(3):147-52. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01171.x.


Objective: To measure the prevalence of overweight, obesity and the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in rural Australia.

Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in two rural areas in Victoria and South Australia in 2004-2005. A stratified random sample of men and women aged 25-74 years was selected from the electoral roll. Data were collected by a self-administered questionnaire, physical measurements and laboratory tests.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of overweight and obesity, as defined by body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference; prevalence of MetS and its components.

Results: Data on 806 participants (383 men and 423 women) were analysed. Based on BMI, the prevalence of overweight and obesity combined was 74.1% (95% CI, 69.7%-78.5%) in men and 64.1% (95% CI, 59.5%-68.7%) in women. Based on waist circumference, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was higher in women (72.4%; 95% CI, 68.1%-76.7%) than men (61.9%; 95% CI, 57.0%-66.8%). The overall prevalence of obesity was 30.0% (95% CI, 26.8%-33.2%) based on BMI (> or = 30.0 kg/m(2)) and 44.7% (95% CI, 41.2%-48.1%) based on waist circumference (> or = 102 cm [men] and > or= 88 cm [women]). The prevalence of MetS as defined by the US National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III 2005 criteria was 27.1% (95% CI, 22.7%-31.6%) in men and 28.3% (95% CI, 24.0%-32.6%) in women; based on International Diabetes Federation criteria, prevalences for men and women were 33.7% (95% CI, 29.0%-38.5%) and 30.1% (95% CI, 25.7%-34.5%), respectively. Prevalences of MetS, central (abdominal) obesity, hyperglycaemia, hypertension and hypertriglyceridaemia increased with age.

Conclusions: In rural Australia, prevalences of MetS, overweight and obesity are very high. Urgent population-wide action is required to tackle the problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat
  • Adiposity
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight*
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*