Social determinants of health—the circumstances in which people grow, live, work and age—can strengthen or undermine the health of individuals and communities. This study uses 4 nationally representative Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Surveys to examine the associations between the social determinants of health with overweight and obesity, over a 10-year period (2007–08 to 2017–18) in Australian adults, aged 18–64.
Age-standardised rates (%) of overweight and obesity were calculated across the social determinants for all 4 surveys. A mixed forward-step/backward elimination logistic regression method was applied to investigate associations between the social determinants and demographic factors with overweight and obesity for each survey.
Rates of overweight and obesity were consistently higher for those who had not completed or attended secondary school, were paying off a mortgage, lived in Inner regional and Outer regional/remote areas of Australia, or who worked as machinery operators and drivers. When controlling for other social determinants of health and individual factors, the odds of overweight and obesity were increased for those who did not complete or attend secondary school (between 1.4 to 2.1 times higher), were paying off a mortgage or renting their home (around 1.2 times higher), or who lived in Inner regional areas of Australia (around 1.2 times higher).
Identifying factors associated with overweight and obesity can help policy makers and health providers develop more targeted strategies to reduce inequalities and improve health related outcomes.