First results from the Australian Health Survey have some good and bad news; smoking rates continue to fall, as do rates of drinking at risky levels, but the number of people who are overweight and obese continues to rise.
First Assistant Statistician at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dr Paul Jelfs, said the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey was the largest checkup on the nation's health ever undertaken. "Compared to four years ago the proportion of overweight adult Australians has increased by more than two percentage points, meaning that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of the population are now classified as overweight or obese," Dr Jelfs said. "Men were more likely to be overweight or obese (70 per cent) than women (56 percent) while one-quarter (25 per cent) of our children are overweight or obese.
He added that while Australians are not winning the battle of the bulge, the good news is we are smoking and drinking less. "Smoking rates are down across all age groups, particularly for people aged under 45," he said. "Men are still more likely to smoke than women - the rate is about one in five men compared to one in seven women. "Just over 16 percent of adult Australians smoke daily, a fall of nearly three percentage points over the last four years. "On a state basis, there were more smokers in the Northern Territory (23.9 per cent) and Tasmania (21.8 per cent) and the fewest in the Australian Capital Territory (13.4 per cent).
"Australians are also drinking less, with a drop of 1.4 percentage points in the number of people drinking more than two standard drinks on average per day," Dr Jelfs said.
Results released today from the Australian Health Survey are the first in a series of results that will be released progressively over the next 18 months.