Australian Women Are Fatter, Fitter And More Frazzled Than They Were 20 years Ago

Sunbathing in Melbourne. Craig Sillitoe/Getty Images

Young Australian women are fitter, but fatter and more frazzled today than they were nearly 20 years ago, according to a major study.

The 17-year Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Healthhas found that 70% of women aged 18 to 23 met Australian guidelines for physical activity in 2010, compared with 59% in 1996.

Professor Gita Mishra, of the University of Queensland, says the finding are encouraging but the percentage of overweight and obese young women is increasing.

In 2013, 33% of the young women surveyed were overweight or obese compared with 20% in 1996.

Researchers also found the prevalence of stress in this age group was higher than in those surveyed in 1996.

About half the young women surveyed said they had experienced high or very high psychological stress in the past year.

The rate was higher – 55% – for women aged 18 to 20, which probably reflects the stressful transition period between adolescence and young adulthood.

The researchers also found that 59% of these young women had experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year, while 45% had engaged in self-harming behaviour.

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