Many health risk factors are on the rise, although some, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, have dropped among certain age groups, particularly among young people, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Risk factor trends: age patterns in key health risk factors over time, presents comparisons over time for different age groups for key risk factors for health including overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
'These are key risk factors for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Lynelle Moon.
'Monitoring these risk factors is important in helping to guide and target preventative health interventions,' Dr Moon said.
For example, between 1995 and 2007-08, measurements of body mass index and waist circumference among adults rose. This resulted in higher rates of overweight/obesity for all ages, with the largest rise among females aged 12 to 44.
'Additionally, between 1989-90 and 2007-08, the proportion of adults who were physically inactive remained high at over 50% for all age groups, with a rise in physical inactivity seen in 15-24 year olds between 1995 to 2007-08,' Dr Moon said.
'Some good news is that rates of smoking have fallen substantially among young people, particularly teenagers, in the last decade,' Dr Moon said.
'The proportion of adults who were daily smokers also dropped between 1989-90 and 2007-08, from 27% to 21% for men and from 20% to 17% for women. Falls occurred for adults in most age groups, but the greatest fall was for those aged 18-24,' Dr Moon said.
Apart from men aged 75 or over, increases were seen in the proportion of people aged 18 or over who drank at long-term risky levels between 1995 and 2007-08 in all age groups.
However, these rates have stabilised among some age groups since 2004-05.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Canberra, 11 September 2012
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