Cancer Council Australia

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Obesity, physical inactivity and nutrition

In 2003 (the most recent national data), 4% of all cancer deaths in Australia were attributed to a combination of physical inactivity, high body mass and inadequate vegetable and fruit consumption. Overlaps in these risk factors make it difficult to separate and quantify their individual impact on cancer.

The 2003 Australia data may also understate the cancer impact of these risk factors, as local estimates are conservative compared with a number of larger international studies. For example, in 2007 the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research estimated that between one quarter and one third of all cancers in high income countries were linked to overweight and obesity, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity.

The overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and nutrition chapter of the National Cancer Prevention Policy contains detailed information on reducing the burden of cancer in Australia relating to these factors. The chapter contains specific policy recommendations and an overview of the evidence to support them.

Detailed information is also available on a number of specific foods and nutrients in a wide range of Cancer Council Australia position statements.


  • The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research.
  • Policy and action for cancer prevention. Food, nutrition, and physical activity: a global perspective, 2009

This page was last updated on: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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