Obesity can be defined simply as a disease in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that health may be adversely affected (WHO 1997). Body Mass Index (BMI), an index of weight for height, is the standard measure for classifying overweight and obesity in adults, refer to Table 1 for classifications of BMI.

The formula for the calculation of BMI is outlined below:











                                            Table 1: BMI classification (AusDia, 2005)


In 2005, 7.4 million people aged 18 years and over (54% of the adult population) were classified as overweight or obese, an increase from 5.4 million adults (45% of the adult population) in 1995 (ABS, 2004-2005).


Though literature research, several factors are identified to have an effect on obesity.


Recreational Areas and Exercise


Access to passive and active recreational areas to exercise and socialise could discourage obesity in individuals.  The size of the area may also contribute to the likelihood of the increase chance of obesity.  This may be because the smaller the size of available recreational area, the smaller the desire to time taken to exercise.  This also includes access to local sporting clubs and sporting facilities.  This project will endeavour to investigate any relationship between this and the rate of obesity.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that on average, overweight or obese adults were slightly less likely to exercise at a moderate to high level (29%) than those underweight or normal weight (32%) (ABS, 2004-5).




Research shows that most health disparities in the United States are linked to differences in socioeconomic status (Sutton, 2005). Studies conducted in several first world countries found connections between income and quality of diet (Drewnowski, 2004). 

Level of Education


The National Health Survey’s report (2005) reveals that adults with a degree, diploma or higher qualifications were less likely to be obese than those with other or no post-school qualifications.

The United States of America (USA) centre for disease control (CDA) has done extensive analysis into the likely contributing factors to obesity.