Australia's Health Report Card
The Bad News
According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian waist lines have ballooned out over the last ten years.
The report found that on average men are 3.6kg heavier and women have increased their weight by 2.8kg over the past decade. Add to that, the alarming figures that the proportion of adults whose waist circumference puts them at risk of chronic disease (more than 94cm for men and 80cm for women) has risen from 45% to 60%.
Females aged 12 to 44 had the largest rise in overweight/ obesity rates over the decade.
The report also found that around 70% of adults are not active enough to get any health benefits, and 93% of adults are not eating the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.
The Good News
The report showed that the rates of smoking have fallen substantially among young people, particularly teenagers, in the last decade.
“The proportion of adults who were daily smokers also dropped between 1989-90 and 2007-08, from 27% to 21% for men and from 20% to 17% for women,” said Dr Lynelle Moon, spokesperson from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The AIHW also said that smoking is likely to continue to decline into the future because the smoking behaviour of younger age groups is generally predictive of future smoking behaviour.
In terms of drinking, the report found that apart from men aged 75 or over, increases were seen in the proportion of people aged 18 or over who drank at long-term risky levels between 1995 and 2007-08 in all age groups.These rates however were found to have stabilised among some age groups since 2004-05.
The National Heart Foundation of Australia expressed concern that heart disease rates could start to rise. “This is a bad report card for Australia’s health – we’re getting Fs in almost every area which means that heart disease rates could start rising again,” said Dr Lyn Roberts – National CEO of the Heart Foundation.
Roberts used the report to call for the Government to do more to make healthier choices easier for Australians.