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To ensure our health system is aligned to our country’s health challenges, policy makers must be able to compare the effects of different conditions that cause ill-health and premature death. Burden of disease analysis considers both the non-fatal burden (impact of ill-health) and fatal burden (impact of premature death) of a comprehensive list of diseases and injuries, and quantifies the contribution of various risk factors to the total burden as well as to individual diseases and injuries.

The most recent estimates are from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2010. Of the risk factors considered in the study, the leading risk factors for Australasia (Australia and New Zealand) were:

  1. dietary risks (accounting for 11% of the total burden)
  2. high body mass index (related to overweight and obesity) (9%)
  3. smoking (8%) [1].

While these risk factors are associated with many diseases, the main conditions affected were cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, urogenital, blood and endocrine diseases combined.

Revised estimates

The last Australian national burden of disease report was published in 2007, based on 2003 data. The AIHW is updating these estimates using the GBD 2010 methodology where possible, with some enhancements to better suit the Australian contexts, and using more recent and detailed Australian data. The revised estimates are expected to be finalised in 2015 .


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2014. Australia’s health 2014. Australia’s health series no. 14. Cat. no. AUS 178. Canberra: AIHW.

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