News

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





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