Web Content Viewer (JSR 286) - Healthy Weight


Red figures of man and woman balancing on either end of a scaleOverweight and obesity

There is very rarely a single reason why a person is overweight or obese.

Nearly always, there are many factors that contribute, including eating too much, especially too much unhealthy food, not getting enough physical activity or a combination of these.1,2

People who are overweight or obese may:

  • Eat high energy (kilojoule) foods, snack foods and take away foods too often
  • Eat servings of food that are larger than they need
  • Not  eat enough vegetables and fruit
  • Drink too many sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks. 


Also, people who are overweight or obese may:

  • Not do enough physical activity to balance their food intake
  • Spend too much time sitting instead of moving
  • Spend too much time in front of screens – watching TV, playing video games or using a computer.


Many Australians consume far too many discretionary foods – foods and drinks high in saturated fat, added sugar, added salt or alcohol.  Some people consume two to four times the recommended limits. These foods contribute more than one-third of the total daily energy (kilojoule) intake for adults, and more than two-fifths for children.2

In addition, we may think we are overweight because we have a ‘slow metabolism’, but this is very unlikely for most people.1,2

But it’s not all our own doing – we live in an environment that encourages us to gain weight. Our changing physical surroundings, changes in the size of available meals and drinks, changes in food supply and changes to transport, work patterns and family structure all have an impact.

However, if you want to achieve a healthy weight, change is possible and nearly always requires reducing your kilojoule (energy) intake. As a guide, to lose around 0.5 kg per week, you need to take in about 2000 kilojoules per day less than you use.1,2

You can help create this kilojoule gap through healthier eating, increasing your physical activity or, preferably, both.

The Healthy Weight Guide can help you to get started and get informed


Shape of a thin women in shirt and jeansThere are many reasons why people become underweight. Some do not eat a healthy, balanced diet. This may be for a variety of reasons including feeling too busy to eat, forgetting to eat, or even not being able to afford to eat sufficient nutritious foods. Even in a wealthy country like Australia some groups may find it difficult to provide enough food to eat every day. They might not eat enough for their body’s needs or may be very active and may not achieve an energy balance.

Weight loss can also be due to physical illness, such as infections, cancer or other conditions. Eating disorders and some other mental health conditions may also lead to weight loss. Some people experience weight loss at times of stress.

If you have trouble putting on weight or maintaining weight, it’s best to see a health professional for advice tailored to your particular needs. The Healthy Weight Guide also has a section for people who are underweight that provides further information and tips on where you can seek help.


[1] National Health and Medical Research Council (2013). Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children in Australia. Melbourne: NHMRC.

[2] National Health and Medical Research Council (2013)Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: NHMRC.

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