University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Population estimates and characteristics of Australians potentially eligible for bariatric surgery: findings from the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey

Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine the potential demand for publicly and privately funded bariatric surgery in Australia.

Methods: Nationally representative data from the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey were used to estimate the numbers and characteristics of Australians meeting specific eligibility criteria as recommended in National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity.

Results: Of the 3352037 adult Australians (aged 18-65 years) estimated to be obese in 2011-13, 882441 (26.3%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 23.0-29.6) were potentially eligible for bariatric surgery (accounting for 6.2% (95% CI 5.4-7.1) of the adult population aged 18-65 years (n = 14122020)). Of these, 396856 (45.0%; 95% CI 40.4-49.5) had Class 3 obesity (body mass index (BMI) ≥40kgm-2), 470945 (53.4%; 95% CI 49.0-57.7) had Class 2 obesity (BMI 35-39.9kgm-2) with obesity-related comorbidities or risk factors and 14640 (1.7%; 95% CI 0.6-2.7) had Class 1 obesity (BMI 30-34.9kgm-2) with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and increased cardiovascular risk; 458869 (52.0%; 95% CI 46.4-57.6) were female, 404594 (45.8%; 95% CI 37.3-54.4) had no private health insurance and 309983 (35.1%; 95% CI 28.8-41.4) resided outside a major city.

Conclusion: Even if only 5% of Australian adults estimated to be eligible for bariatric surgery sought this intervention, the demand, particularly in the public health system and outside major cities, would far outstrip current capacity. Better guidance on patient prioritisation and greater resourcing of public surgery are needed.


Publication title

Australian Health Review






Menzies Institute for Medical Research


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication


Rights statement

© AHHA 2017 © CSIRO 1996-2017

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania