Overweight & Obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle has many benefits for and your family. By being within a healthy weight range you will have a reduced risk of developing major medical conditions, be able to enjoy more social and physical activities, with family and friends and live a longer life.

South Western Sydney has a high number of people who are overweight and obese. A 2015 survey found more than half the residents in South Western Sydney reported being overweight or obese, more than the NSW average.

Being overweight and obese has a significant social, financial and physical impact on a person, no matter what their age or where they live.

Doing regular exercise and having a balanced diet helps to control overweight and obesity, which are the main risk factors for chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. [link to cd page]

While many things can influence how much you weigh, becoming overweight or obese happens mainly because of a difference between the amount of energy you take in from your food and drink and the amount of energy you lose through physical activities and bodily functions. (scale graphic) If you use more energy than you take in, this could result in weight-loss, however if you consume more energy than you use, this could result in weight gain.

Who is at risk?

Locally, those most at risk of being overweight and obese are people with a family members who are overweight or obese, those who do not get enough physical activity each week, those who do not eat a healthy diet and those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Southern European, Pacific Island and Arabic cultural backgrounds, as well as those experiencing the most socio-economic disadvantage.

South Western Sydney also has high rates of obesity among young people. A third (33.6 per cent) of young people aged 16-24 years in South Western Sydney reported to being overweight or obese, compared to 28.1 per cent for all persons in this age group for NSW.

How to check you are of a healthy weight range?

You can quickly check whether your weight is in a healthy range by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). It can be used for both men and women, aged 18 years or older.

Your BMI is your body weight in kilograms, divided by the square of your height in metres. For example, if you weight 75kg and you are 175cm tall (1.75m), your BMI = 75 / (1.75 x 1.75) = 24.5.

In adults, your BMI will fall into one of four categories:

Less than 18.5


18.5 to less than 25

Normal weight range

25 to less than 30


30 or more


Waist circumference

Excess weight around the tummy area can have a serious detrimental effect on your overall health and wellbeing.

Assess your health risk by measuring your waist circumference correctly:

Measure halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, roughly in line with your belly button


Measure directly against your skin


Breathe out normally

Make sure the tape is snug, without compressing the skin

Risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes


Greatly increased

Women – Waist Measurement (cm)

80cm or more

88cm or more

Men – Waist Measurement (cm)

94cm or more

102cm or more

Energy intake

The total amount of food and drink your body needs depends on many important factors, including your age, gender, body size, level of physical activity or whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

To calculate your individual energy needs visit eatforhealth.gov.au.

The energy intake from food and drink differs a lot between individuals. For example, in 2011-12, it was around 6,000 kilojoules for children aged two to three years; around 9,000 kilojoules for adolescents aged 14-18 years; and for adults aged 19 and over, for men it was around 10,000 kilojoules and for women around 7,500 kilojoules.

Energy use

The human body uses energy in three ways:

1. Basal metabolism (the energy used to maintain basic body processes)

2. Thermic processes (the energy taken to digest and absorb food)

3. Physical activity (the energy used to move around)

Physical activity is the part of energy use that can change the most, and the main part of it that a person can control. For a person who is generally active, physical activity makes up about 20 percent of their daily energy use.

The balance

Physical activity and healthy eating are the key to a healthy active life.

Maintaining your weight happens when you balance the energy going into your body as food and drink with the energy being used to keep your bodily functions working, for growth and repair, and for physical activity.

When you have extra energy intake, even a little bit over a long period, it will cause weight gain; when you have a lot over a long period of time, it will cause overweight or obesity.

It is important to remember that restricting intake at is not recommended early or late in life.

Children and adolescents need to keep physically active and to eat enough nutritious foods to grow and develop normally; older people need to keep active and to eat nutritious food to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.

Healthy eating guide

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is an illustrated guide that shows the amount of the five food groups suggested to be eaten each day. Following these suggestions and limiting the number of high-energy, but low-nutrient foods and drinks is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Being physically active and eating healthily during your life helps you to maintain health and wellbeing and prevent becoming overweight and obese.


How much should I eat each day?

Eat a variety of raw and cooked vegetables, fruit and legumes (e.g. dried beans, lentils)

Eat plenty of cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain

Eat red meat no more than three to four times a week. On the other days choose ­ fish, poultry, dried or canned beans or lentils

Eat at least two serves of fruit and ­ five serves of vegetables each day

What is a serve?


  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or cooked legumes
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 cup salad vegetables


  • 1 medium piece (e.g. apple)
  • 2 small pieces (e.g. apricots)
  • 1 cup chopped or canned fruit

What about taking vitamin and mineral supplements?

If you enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods you will get the nutrients you need and are less likely to become overweight or obese.

When you eat well, vitamin and mineral supplements are generally not necessary.

If you have any concerns or questions, #talktoyourgp.

Eat for Health (Arabic)

Eat for Health (Chinese)

Eat for Health (Vietnamese)

Make Healthy Normal

We are living in an environment where being unhealthy has become normal. The NSW Government’s Make Healthy Normal Campaign advocates that it is never too late to make a lifestyle change for you or your family.

It is important for family members to support each other in being physically active and reaching the recommended level for good health and staying fit. Make Healthy Normal has solutions to help you exercise better and eat more healthily, including resources and services for children and adults.
For more information visit https://www.makehealthynormal.nsw.gov.au/home


Go4Fun is a free 10-week healthy lifestyle program for New South Wales (NSW) children aged seven to 13 years who are above a healthy weight. The program focuses on improving eating habits, fitness and confidence.

Go4Fun programs are led by qualified health professionals and take place after school, running during school terms. The aim of the program is that children and their families have fun and become fitter, healthier and happier.

A parent or carer is required to attend each session.

In South Western Sydney, programs currently run at Bankstown, Macquarie Fields, Liverpool, Eagle Vale and Oran Park.

To find out more about the Go4fun program go to the website: go4fun.com.au/where/south-western-sydney or email: go4fun@sswahs.nsw.gov.au or telephone: 1800 780 900.

Link between obesity and cancer

Most people aren’t aware there is a link between nutrition and cancer. Eating well, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight can decrease your chance of developing cancer by one third.

One of the easiest ways you can do is to eat the correct amount of fruit and vegetables every day.

By eating five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day, you have the best chance of reducing your risk of developing cancer. However, 90 per cent of New South Wales (NSW) adults don’t eat enough vegetables and 50 per cent don’t eat enough fruit.

Eat It to Beat It

Cancer Council NSW wants to make eating fruit and vegetables part of an every day routine for families and change the way they think about them. As a way of doing that, it signs up schools to its Eat It to Beat It program, and holds free workshops and sessions for parents. The program is evidence-based, and delivered by trained volunteers determined to beat cancer.

All parents are urged to sign up, which is simple for schools to run. Cancer Council NSW provides:

  • Healthy Lunch Box sessions for kindergarten orientation programs gives parents simple, healthy advice, and an award-winning Lunch Box Kit, in a 25-minute session
  • Fruit & Veg Sense workshops for parents shows small groups of parents in 90 minutes how they can save time and money making healthy meals the whole family will enjoy, and gives them clever ways to entice fussy eaters
  • Nutrition Snippets for school newsletter are great healthy eating insights and ideas for parents sent twice a term

To contact Cancer Council NSW email: eatittobeatit@nswcc.org.au; telephone: (02) 4923 0710; or visit it on social media at Facebook; or  Pinterest for more details.

Links between and obesity and other health conditions

Diseases associated with obesity

Relative Risk Associated with metabolic consequences Associated with weight
Greatly increased Type 2 diabetes
Gall bladder disease
Insulin resistance
Sleep apnoea
Social isolation/depression
Daytime sleepiness/fatigue
Coronary heart
Respiratory disease
Psychological problems
Cancer (breast, endometrial, colon)
Reproductive abnormalities
Impaired fertility
Polycystic ovaries
Skin complications
Varicose veins
Musculo-skeletal problems
Bad back
Stress incontinence


The most important long-term consequence of childhood obesity is continuing into adulthood. Obesity is more likely to persist when its onset is in late childhood or adolescence and where children have obese parents. There is now epidemiological evidence to support the theory that the association between obesity and disease begins early in life. For more information on weight, healthy eating and physical activity: