Journal article

Trends in health status and chronic disease risk factors over 10–14 years in a remote Australian community: a matched pair study

Diabetes Cardiovascular diseases Australia

Objective: To determine trends in health status over a 10-year interval in a high-risk remote Australian Aboriginal community.

Methods: Two health surveys were performed, one between 1992 and 1997 and the other between 2004 and 2006, on people aged five years or older. Outcomes were compared across age-matched and sex-matched pairs.

Results: There were 1,209 matched pairs. In the second survey, birthweights tended to be higher, and there were significant increases in heights of adolescents and young adults, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels generally. Young adult males were lighter, had lower measurements for waist circumference and blood pressure and less frequently had overt-albuminuria, while elevated blood pressure was less common in older males. However, females ≥15 years had higher measurements for waist circumference, waist to hip ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI) and diastolic blood pressure and a higher proportion of diabetes, notably in those aged older than 45 years. Males aged 15–24 years were less likely to be smokers while women aged less than 45 years were more often current drinkers.

Conclusions: Results indicative of better nutrition among youth, better health of young adult males, stable or lower levels of albuminuria and improved HDL levels are all encouraging. The waist circumference increase in females might reflect better food access. An increase in diabetes in older subjects probably reflects recent enhanced survival of middle-aged and older people with – and at risk for – diabetes.

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