Most Aussies think they're in good health - new survey says otherwise

Overweight, poor diet and stressed: new National Health Survey paints a sick picture

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More than 20 per cent of Australians report having a behavioural or mental health condition: new survey


WE'RE overweight, don't eat enough fruit or veggies, still smoke and drink too much and don't exercise enough - overall Aussies are not getting a good health report card.

The latest results from the National Health Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals some mixed data.

In 2017-18 more than half of Australians over 15 considered themselves to be in excellent or good health while 14.7 per cent reported being in fair or poor health - results which have remained constant over the past 10 years.

However, we're also more stressed, more anxious, more depressed and more of us report having a mental or behavioural condition. One in eight people (2.4 million or 13 per cent) reported experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress up 1.3 per cent from 2014-15, 4.8 million people reported a mental or behavioural problem (up 2.6 per cent) anxiety related conditions were up 1.9 per cent and depression sufferers up 1.5 per cent.

In 2017-18 two thirds of Australian adults were overweight or obese (12.5 million people) an increase of 3.6 per cent with the change driven by an increase in the number of adults categorised as obese which increased from 27.9 per cent to 31.3 per cent.

While as individuals we're drinking less alcohol, many of us are still drinking too much - one in six or 16.1 per cent of people 18 years or over drink more than two standard drinks a day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guideline. This figure was down from 17.4 per cent in 2014-15 and 19.5 per cent in 2011-2012.

The number of Australian who are daily smokers has been declining since 1995 (23.8 per cent to 13.8 per cent in 2017-18) but recently the decline has plateaued with the number of people smoking daily dropping by less than one per cent in the last couple of years.

In 2017-18 just over half of Australians aged 18 and over ate the recommended two serves of fruit a day but only 1 in 13 met the five plus servings of vegetables guidelines.

When it comes to exercise, we're also falling down - only 15 per cent of 18-64 year-olds are meeting the 2014 Physical Activity Guidelines.

Chronic health conditions experienced in Australia in 2017-2018:

  • Mental and behavioural conditions 4.8 million people (20.1 per cent)
  • Back problems 4 million (16.4 per cent)
  • Arthritis 3.6 million people (15 percent)
  • Asthma 2.7 million people (11.2 per cent)
  • Diabetes 1.2 million people (type 1, 144,800, type 2, 998,100)
  • Heart, stroke and vascular disease 1.2 million people (4.8 per cent)
  • Osteoporosis 924,000 people (3.8 per cent)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 598,800 (2.5 per cent)
  • Cancer 432,400 people (1.8 per cent)
  • Kidney disease 237,800 people (1 per cent)

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