Roy Morgan Research
April 12, 2019

Rise in vegetarianism not halting the march of obesity

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 7944
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Nearly 2.5 million Australians (12.1% of the population) now have diets of which the food is all, or almost all, vegetarian, up from under 2.2 million (11.2%) four years ago in 2014.

This continues the trend shown in a Roy Morgan release from three years ago – ‘The slow but steady rise of vegetarianism in Australia showing vegetarianism had steadily improved since 2012 when only 9.7% of the population identified as having a vegetarian diet equivalent to 1.7 million Australians at the time.

However, the rising level of vegetarianism in Australia has yet to stop the increasing trend towards obesity. Now 28.5% of Australians have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 and are classified as ‘Obese’, up 2.1% points from four years ago.

There are also more ‘Underweight’ Australians than four years ago although the number remains small. Just 2.7% of Australians are now classified as ‘Underweight’ up 0.2% points from four years ago. ‘Underweight’ Australians have a BMI below 18.5.

In contrast to four years ago there are now fewer Australians with a BMI in the ‘Acceptable weight’ range between 18.5 to 25, now 33.9% (down 1.3% points).

The good news on the BMI front is that there are now fewer Australians classified as ‘Overweight’ with a BMI between 25 to 30. Now 32.2% (down 0.6% points) are classified as ‘Overweight’.

Vegetarianism and the Body Mass Index in the Australian population 2014 cf. 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), Jan-Dec 2014 (n=15,944) and Jan-Dec 2018, (n=14,913).

Metrotechs and Aspirationals more likely to be Vegetarians than average Australians

Analysing Australia’s 2,474,000 vegetarians in more detail reveals an over-representation by two of Roy Morgan’s Helix Personas communities led clearly by Metrotechs (18.2%). The rate of vegetarianism among Metrotechs means members of this Helix Persona community are approximately 50% more likely to be a vegetarian than the average Australian.

The other community which has higher than an average share of vegetarians is Aspirationals (13.1%), nearly 2% points higher than any other Helix Persona community.

But what type of people are the Australians represented by these communities?

• Metrotechs: Highly educated, socially aware, hard-working, ambitious and culturally diverse young singles typically renting apartments in the inner city and inner suburbs.

• Aspirationals: Ambitious, up-and-coming, culturally diverse young families, young singles and couples committed to creating a successful future.

Least likely to be vegetarians are Australians in the Hearth & Home (4.1%) and Doing Fine (10.7%) communities.

Australian vegetarians by Helix Persona Community in 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), Jan-Dec 2018, (n=14,913). 

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says vegetarianism is an increasingly important lifestyle choice in Australia with nearly 2.5 million Australians now eating a largely vegetarian diet, however Australia now has over 5.5 million obese adults – a new record high:

Block Quote

“The recent protests by animal rights activists around Australia brought the focus of the Australian media back onto the issue of how Australia treats its animals. For many protesters a key part of securing better treatment of animals is to practice and promote embracing vegetarianism – and the message is getting through to an increasing number of Australians.

“Nearly 2.5 million Australians (12.1%) now claim to eat a diet in which the food is all, or almost all, vegetarian. This is up from under 2.2 million (11.2%) four years ago and up from 1.7 million (9.7%) in 2012.

“Unsurprisingly it is the young singles in Australia’s inner cities known classified as Metrotechs by Roy Morgan’s ground-breaking consumer profiling tool Helix Personas who are the biggest proponents of vegetarianism.

“Nearly a fifth of Metrotechs (18.2%) say they are vegetarians, a rate approximately 50% higher than the general population. Metrotechs are highly educated, hard-workings, ambitious, culturally diverse and perhaps most importantly when it comes to vegetarianism, socially aware.

“However despite the media attention given to vegetarians in recent days, and the increasing prevalence of the dietary choice in Australia, the nation as a whole continues to face what many refer to as an ‘epidemic of obesity’.

“Roy Morgan’s latest analysis of trends in Australia’s Body Mass Index (BMI) unfortunately shows that the trend continues. A record high of over 5.5 million Australians are now classified as obese equivalent to 28.5% of the population and up 2.1% points on four years ago.

“Obesity is easily the fastest growing category of Australians and if current trends continue over a third of Australians could be obese within the next decade overtaking Australians classified as ‘overweight’ or of an ‘acceptable weight’.”

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Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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