Prevalence and characteristics of overweight and obesity in indigenous Australian children: A systematic review

Suzanne Marie Dyer, Judith Streak Gomersall, Lisa Gaye Smithers, Carol Davy, Dylan T. Coleman, Jackie Mary Street

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence-based profiling of obesity and overweight in Indigenous Australian children has been poor. This study systematically reviewed evidence of the prevalence and patterns of obesity/overweight, with respect to gender, age, remoteness, and birth weight, in Indigenous Australian children, 0–18 years (PROSPERO CRD42014007626). Study quality and risk of bias were assessed. Twenty-five publications (21 studies) met inclusion criteria, with large variations in prevalence for obesity or overweight (11 to 54%) reported. A high degree of heterogeneity in study design was observed, few studies (6/21) were representative of the target population, and few appropriately recruited Indigenous children (8/21). Variability in study design, conduct, and small sample sizes mean that it is not possible to derive a single estimate for prevalence although two high-quality studies indicate at least one in four Indigenous Australian children are overweight or obese. Four of six studies reporting on gender, found overweight/obesity higher in girls and eight studies reporting on overweight/obesity by age suggest prevalence increases with age with one high quality large national study reporting total overweight/obesity as 22.4% of children aged 2–4 years, 27.5% of those aged 5–9, 38.5% aged 10–14, and 36.3% aged 15–17. Three of four studies, reporting obesity/overweight by region, found lower rates for children living in more remote areas than urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1376
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 3 May 2017


  • Australia
  • Obesity
  • adolescents
  • children
  • indigenous
  • overweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Cite this