Twelve-year weight change, waist circumference change and incident obesity: The Australian diabetes, obesity and lifestyle study


  • Funding agencies: This study was sponsored by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC grants 233200 and 1007544), Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Abbott Australasia Pty Ltd., Alphapharm Pty Ltd., Amgen Australia, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, City Health Centre-Diabetes Service-Canberra, Department of Health and Community Services, Northern Territory; Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania; Department of Health, New South Wales; Department of Health, Western Australia; Department of Health, South Australia; Department of Human Services, Victoria, Diabetes Australia, Diabetes Australia Northern Territory, Eli Lilly Australia, Estate of the Late Edward Wilson, GlaxoSmithKline, Jack Brockhoff Foundation, Janssen-Cilag, Kidney Health Australia, Marian & FH Flack Trust, Menzies Research Institute, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Pty Ltd., Pratt Foundation, Queensland Health, Roche Diagnostics Australia, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Sanofi Aventis, sanofi-synthelabo, and the Victorian Government's OIS Program.

  • Disclosure: The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

  • Author contributions: SKT contributed to the study design and completed the main data analysis, interpretation of data, and the preparation of manuscript. JES, KB, DJM, and AP contributed to the study design, interpretation of data, and the preparation of manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



This study aimed to describe the changes in weight and waist circumference (WC), examine the incidence of obesity as defined by body mass index (BMI) and WC, and describe the changes in the prevalence of obesity over 12 years.


In 1999/2000, 11,247 adults aged ≥25 years were recruited from 42 randomly selected areas across Australia. In total, 44.6% of eligible participants completed follow-up in 2011/12. Height, weight, and WC were measured at both surveys.


People who were 25–34 years of age at baseline gained an average of 6.7 kg weight and 6.6 cm WC, whereas those aged ≥75 years lost an average of 4.5 kg and gained an average of 0.8 cm. Women had a greater increase in WC than men, but did not differ in terms of weight gain. The 12-year incidence of obesity was 15.0% when defined by BMI and 31.8% when defined by WC. According to BMI and WC combined, the percentage of the cohort that was normal weight decreased from 33 to 21% and the percentage that was obese increased from 32 to 49% between baseline and 2012.


In addition to BMI, assessment of WC should be incorporated more frequently when assessing population trends of obesity and the burden of disease associated with excess adiposity.