Is our Australian Lifestyle Cause for Concern – Australian’s Health 2016 Report

australian lifestyle

It’s another typical Australian day. You wake up at 06:00 and prepare the kid’s lunches while they attempt breakfast by having a bowl of Weet-Bix and spilling mot of it on the floor. Two hours of chaos later you’re dressed and heading out the door. You manage to drop the kids off just as the school bell rings. After some traffic manoeuvring, you finally arrive at work, where you’ll spend another eight hours at your desk ordering stock, filing documents and preparing invoices.

Tired after a long day, you get dinner at your local pizza shop, garlic bread, pizzas, 2 litres of coke and mini Magnums. You’ll prepare something healthy for tomorrow night, you promise yourself. You drive home, ignoring the waistband of your jeans getting tighter around your waist.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If it does, rest assured you’re not alone. According to a 2013 Australian Lifestyle Survey, Australians are putting on weight faster and faster. The average man now weighs 3.9 kg’s heavier and the average woman 4.1 kg’s heavier, since 1995.

The most obese countries in the world (2013)

  1. United States: 35%
  2. Mexico: 32%
  3. New Zealand: 31%
  4. Hungary: 29%
  5. Australia: 28%

Australia is currently the 5th most obese country in the world, with 28% of the 24.4 million people suffering the consequences of coronary heart disease, respiratory problems, and depression.

In this article, we’ll provide you with the freighting statistics of the 2016 health report, in the hope that it will motivate and encourage you to lead a healthier lifestyle and prevent you from becoming one of these statistics.

Chronic Diseases on the Rise

According to Australia’s health 2016 (AIHW) report, chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes are becoming increasingly common in Australia. These chronic diseases are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia.

Many things can affect how healthy we are. The common definition of health is “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (WHO 1946), and depends on two general factors:

  1. Detriments: Things that can influence your health, like your genetics, your environment, and your behaviour.
  2. Interventions: The things that improve your health, like treatment and care, exercise and a healthy diet.

Are you physically, mentally and socially comfortable, healthy and happy? Do you have boundless energy, clear skin, a lust for life with the lung capacity to support it? If your answer is no, then your lifestyle may need some adjustments.

Summary of the 2016 Australia Health report

Here is a quick overview of the findings, good and bad.

The Good Details
Australian life expectancy is one of the highest in the world. On average a male or female can expect to live to the ripe old age of 80.3 years and 84.4 years respectively (as at 2014).
Living longer free of disability. Between 1998 and 2012, disability-free life expectancy for males rose by 4.4 years and 2.4 years for females.
The number of people smoking has decreased. In 1991, 24% of people 14 years and older were smoking, compared to only 13% in 2013.
Drinking rates have lowered. Between 2007 and 2008, Australians 15 and older were drinking 10.8 litres of alcohol, compared to the 9.7 litres five years later in 2013 to 2014.
The Bad Details
Australia is the fifth fattest country in the world. 63% of Australians (18+) are overweight or obese. Only one-third (35%) are in a normal weight range (ABS 2015e).
Obesity is on the rise. According to 2014 to 2015 NHS, 11 million people over the age of 18 were overweight or obese.
Chronic diseases are increasing. About 50% of Australians have at least one chronic condition, with 5.3 million having two or more conditions.

Australian Life Expectancy
In the 2016 health report, we were shocked to learn that the dominant cause of death in young Australians, between the ages of 15 and 44, was suicide.

  • 15 to 24 age group: 28% death due to suicide
  • 25 to 44 age group: 18% death due to suicide

Leading causes of deaths in Australia by age group, 2011-2013

Age 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Age < 1 Other
Perinatal & Congenital
Other
SIDS
Other
Ill-defined causes
External
Accidental threats to breathing
Other
Selected metabolic disorders
Age 1 - 14 External
Land transport accidents
Other
Perinatal & Congenital
Cancer
Brain cancer
External
Accidental poisoning
Other
Cerebral palsy & related
Age 15 - 24 External
Suicide
External
Land transport accident
External
Accidental poisoning
External
Assault
External
Event of undetermined intent
Age 25 - 44 External
Suicide
External
Accidental poisoning
External
Land transport accidents
Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Cancer
Breast cancer
Age 45 - 64 Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Cancer
Lung cancer
Cancer
Breast cancer
Cancer
Colorectal cancer
External
Sucicide
Age 65 - 74 Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Cancer
Lung cancer
Respiratory
COPD
Circulatory
Cerebrovascular disease
Cancer
Colorectal cancer
Age 75 - 84 Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Circulatory
Cerebrovascular disease
Other
Dementia & Alzheimer disease
Cancer
Lung cancer
Respiratory
COPD
Age 85 - 94 Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Other
Dementia & Alzheimer disease
Circulatory
Cerebrovascular disease
Respiratory
COPD
Circulatory
Heart failure
Age 85 - 94 Circulatory
Coronary heart disease
Other
Dementia & Alzheimer disease
Circulatory
Cerebrovascular disease
Circulatory
Heart failure
Respiratory
Influenza & pneumonia

Source: http://www.aihw.gov.au/deaths/leading-causes-of-death/

Suicide is a serious public health problem, both in Australia and globally. According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organisation, an estimated 804,000 suicide deaths occurred worldwide in 2012.

Chronic illness is an important risk factor for suicidal behaviour, non-more so than the chronic disease of depression and obesity. There is evidence that obesity is positively associated with depression. According to Obesity Australia No time to Weight report a person’s mood changes when their body mass index (BMI) increases.

Obesity may constitute a chronic stressful state, which elevates your cortisol levels, weakening your immune system and leaving you vulnerable to various other illnesses. In 2014 almost one in seven Australians reported depression and anxiety symptoms in the severe to extremely severe stage.

According to a 2014 survey of stress and wellbeing in Australia, issues of health were frequently rated as a source of stress for Australians, especially the stress of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Australians with obesity rated this issue particularly stressful. It was also found that Australians with obesity were far more likely to suffer from one or more chronic physical health conditions. See table below.

burden of disease stats
Source: http://www.aihw.gov.au/australias-health/2016/ill-health/

What is classified as obese?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that puts an individual’s health at risk. A person classifies as obese when their BMI score is 30 or over. You calculate your BMI by dividing your weight (in kg) by the square if your height in meters.

Can obesity lead to depression?

Obesity is often associated with major psychological burden and depression, but conversely, depression can also lead to obesity. Comfort eating is frequently seen as a side-effect of depression.

Why is obesity a health problem?

An increased body mass index (BMI) is a recognised risk factor and increases your chance of developing chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, eight types of cancers, back pain and respiratory problems.

Why does weight matter?

According to the Australian 2016 health report, Australian life expectancy reduced by 2 to 4 years when a person was classified as overweight, and reduced by 8 to 10 years when a person was obese.

An analysis by KPMG estimated the total direct and indirect cost of obesity (2008 to 2009) to be $37.7 billion.

Should you consider some form of financial protection to help you maintain your Australian Lifestyle ?

The average disposable income of Australians is $998 per week, with most couple families having two children and a third of which (36%) also has a mortgage to pay.

Life happens, we always try our best to prevent illness and accidents from happening. However, you are only human. Make sure you have a plan. Discuss necessary steps with your family and ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect this amazing Australian lifestyle you’re fortunate enough to have.

Conclusion

Health is an important part of how we feel and function, and it impacts our overall wellbeing. Yes, we might be living longer, but our current Australian lifestyle of overeating and inactivity is making the life we have less healthy, more expensive and less enjoyable.

If you’re serious about returning to health and being an example for your loved ones now is the best time to talk to your support group, understand your options to improve your health and wellbeing and to take that first step. The Australian Lifestyle is one of the most amazing in the world; we just need to ensure we are looking after ourselves to enjoy it!

Photo credit: Scott Webb ([email protected])

Author: Russell Cain
Published: September 26, 2016

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