Aussies in the 1990s - a picture of good health?

Australians lived longer and healthier lives in the 1990s-but there is still room for improvement, according to Australian Health Trends 2001, a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released today in Sydney at the 33rd Public Health Association of Australia conference.

In the last 10 years, fewer Australians died prematurely from coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, road accidents and other injuries. As a result, life expectancy continues to increase. An Australian boy born in 1999 can expect to live 76 years, and a girl born in the same year can expect to live almost 82 years.

Authors of the report, Michael de Looper and Dr Kuldeep Bhatia, said that other favourable trends included fewer people smoking overall, improved dental health, a fall in the prevalence of high blood pressure, improved levels of immunisation and substantial falls in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

'Many of these trends suggest that improvements in health should continue-but there are a number of areas for concern,' said Dr Bhatia.

'There are more people overweight now. In 1999, 65% of men and 45% of women aged 25-64 years were reportedly overweight - compared with 52% of men and 35% of women 10 years earlier.'

'And there are still too many people smoking - especially among young people. Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases, including lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and a range of other chronic diseases.'

'Also, death rates among our Indigenous population have only fallen slightly in recent years and remain more than double those for non-Indigenous Australians.'

Australian Health Trends 2001 reports the latest 10-year data to show time trends in more than 80 indicators, or measures, of health - covering health status, the health of specific populations, the National Health Priority Areas, health determinants and risk factors, use of health services and health spending in Australia.

Other findings in this report include:

  • a downward trend in male deaths from lung cancer, but an increasing number of females dying from the disease;
  • increasing death rates from opiate overdose;
  • increases in health and hospital expenditure per person, but falling average lengths of hospital stay; and
  • increases in the number of coronary procedures, particularly angioplasty and stenting.


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