More on body size

Michael Kortt and I have a descriptive paper in the 4th HILDA statistical report (pp180-187), discussing correlates of body size among Australian adults. A few snippets:

  • Comparing across states and territories, we find relatively few systematic differences for men. However, there are some small differences for women, with women in South Australia and Western Australia about 1cm taller than the national average.  Women in Victoria are significantly less likely to be obese (20% compared to a national average of 23%), while women in the Northern Territory are significantly more likely to be underweight (9% compared to a national average of 3%).
  • Comparing across generations, Generation Y (those born in 1976-85) are on average 3cm taller than Baby Boomers (those born in 1946-55). Even accounting for the recognised fact that people’s height shrinks slightly as they grow older, there does appear to have been a 1-2cm secular increase in the heights of men and women in Australia over time.
  • There are large differences across education groups. On average, people with a bachelor degree are 2-3cm taller than respondents who did not complete high school. University graduates are also half as likely to be obese than people who did not complete high school.  However, some of this may be due to family background, since we also found that people whose fathers worked in high-status occupations tended to be taller and slimmer than respondents whose fathers worked in low-status occupations.
  • Finally, we looked at the ethnic and racial correlates of body size. On average, men and women who were born overseas are 3cm shorter than those who were born in Australia. Immigrants are also less likely to be obese than those born in Australia. Comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents, there are significant racial differences in obesity for women, with the obesity rate being 22% for non-Indigenous women, and 34% for Indigenous women.
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One Response to More on body size

  1. Peter Fyfe says:

    One presumes South Australian women are slightly taller because they were among the first to stand up and enjoy suffrage (at least until federation took it away for a while)…

    or is it because they weren’t weighed down by the convict chains? :)

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