Aussie Health Report Good To Excellent

14:42' 09-07-2018
The two-yearly report card on Australia’s health, released every two years, shows the nation to be generally healthy, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

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    Photo: sarmy.org.au

    Our life expectancy puts us “squarely” in the best third of OECD countries. Girls born in 2016 are likely to reach an age of 84.6 years, while boys can expect to live to 80.4 years.

    Australians have a positive view of their health, with more than 4 out of 5 grading their own health to be at least “good”, if not “very good” or “excellent”.

    Fewer of us are smoking or experiencing long-term alcohol use than in the past. More children have been immunised, and we’re doing well in terms of preventing avoidable deaths.

    However, as the population is living longer, we are now experiencing higher rates of chronic and age-related conditions. Older Australians use a higher proportion of hospital and other health services, and 75% of all PBS medicines are dispensed to people aged 50 and over.

    Long-term health conditions related to lifestyle factors are common. Half of Australians have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, or cancer. Almost a quarter of us have two or more of these conditions.

    About one-third of the nation’s disease burden is due to preventable risk factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise.

    A notable example is increased obesity, affecting 63% of adults, and responsible for 7% of the total disease burden. The proportion of Australians with a healthy body weight has fallen over the past 20 years, and the proportion who are “severely obese” has nearly doubled.

    Although the report is positive overall, it also shows that social factors such as employment, education and income are the key to making further progress. AIHW CEO Barry Sandison said the report shows a clear connection between socioeconomic position and health. People in the lowest socioeconomic group are almost 3 times as likely to smoke or have diabetes, and twice as likely to die of potentially avoidable causes.

    Mr Sandison noted a similar pattern was seen among people living in remote areas, while certain groups, such as LGBTI Australians, people with a disability, prisoners and people of cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds also experience specific health challenges.

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