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Health snapshot of the ‘typical Australian’


Paul Hayes


12/12/2018 1:23:44 PM

The average Australian is a non-smoker and has never smoked, does 42 minutes of daily exercise, is overweight or obese, and does not eat enough vegetables, according to a new report from the ABS.

While the typical Australian did an average of 42 minutes of exercise every day, they did not participate in sufficient strength and toning activities. (Image: World Obesity image bank)
While the typical Australian did an average of 42 minutes of exercise every day, they did not participate in sufficient strength and toning activities. (Image: World Obesity image bank)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) National Health Survey 2017–18 has painted a picture of the typical Australian’s health.

The report found that the typical Australian male is overweight at a height of 175 cm and weight of 87 kg, with the typical female is also overweight at 161 cm and 72 kg.

Overall, two-thirds (67%) of Australian adults – 12.5 million people – are overweight or obese, an increase from 63.4% in 2014–15. The ABS found this was largely driven by an increase in the proportion of adults categorised as obese, which jumped from 27.9% to 31.3%.

Of note, the last three years saw a marked increase in the proportion of adults aged 18–24 considered to be overweight or obese, from 38.9% in 2014–15 to 46% in 2017–18.
 
‘On average, we were doing 42 minutes of exercise every day, which mostly consisted of walking for transport or walking for exercise [24.6 minutes],’ ABS Director of Health Statistics, Louise Gates, said. ‘However, we didn’t participate in sufficient strength and toning activities.
 
‘In addition, 44% of us spent most of our work day sitting.’
 
While eight out of 10 Australians had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months, they did so at safe levels, with 48% consuming sugar-sweetened or diet drinks.
 
More than half of Australians (56%) aged 15 and over reported that they are in excellent or very good health, while only 14.7% said they are in fair or poor health.
 
Close to half of Australians (47%) have at least one chronic health condition, including:

  • mental and behavioural conditions – 20.1% (4.8 million people)
  • back problems - 16.4% (4 million)
  • arthritis – 150% (3.6 million)
  • asthma – 11.2% (2.7 million)
  • diabetes mellitus – 4.9% (1.2 million)
  • heart, stroke and vascular disease – 4.8% (1.2 million)
  • osteoporosis – 3.8% (924,000 people)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – 2.5% (598,800)
  • cancer – 1.8% (432,400)
  • kidney disease – 1% (237,800).
Issues of mental health are increasing among Australian adults:
  • 13.4% experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, up from 11.7% in 2014–15.
  • 20.1% reported a mental or behavioural condition, up from 17.5% in 2014–15
  • 13.1% had an anxiety-related condition, up from 11.2% in 2014–15
  • 10.4% had depression or feelings of depression, up from 8.9% in 2014–15
More detailed information is available on the ABS website.



ABS health survey


newsGP weekly poll What areas of healthcare were you hoping would get more funding in this year's Federal Budget?
 
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4%
 
1%
 
63%
 
17%
 
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