The 1989 Survey has collected a wealth of information on the demographic and physical characteristics, health and associated behaviour of people aged 20-69 years living in the State and Territory capital cities. This summary highlights a number of points of interest in the report.

Blood pressure and hypertension

  • About 1 in 6 men and 1 in 8 women were found to be hypertensive: they either said that they were on tablets for blood pressure or had a diastolic blood pressure of 95mmHg or more. A diastolic blood pressure of 95mmHg or more was found in 11% of men and 5% of women, whether or not they were on tablets for raised blood pressure.
  • 53% of men and 77% of women found to be hypertensive were currently taking tablets for raised blood pressure. Of those who said they were on tablets for blood pressure, 1 in 3 men and 1 in 6 women had a diastolic pressure of 95mmHg or more. 8% of men and 3% of women had diastolic blood pressures of 95mmHg or more and were not on tablets.
  • The proportion of men and women found to be hypertensive increased steadily with age. In the oldest age group, 65-69 years, 37% of men and 54% of women were hypertensive.

Blood cholesterol and triglycerides

  • 47% of men and 39% of women (not taking the oral contraceptive pill) had plasma cholesterol levels of 5.5mmol/L or more, the level which the National Heart Foundation regards as higher than desirable. 16% of men and 14% of women had levels of 6.5mmol/L or more.
  • 17% of men and 7% of women (not taking the oral contraceptive pill) had plasma triglycerides of 2.0mmol/L or more.

Smoking behaviour

  • 24% of men and 21% of women said they were current cigarette smokers.
  • 55% of men and 48% of women who had smoked regularly said they were no longer smoking.
  • The average amount smoked daily was 18 cigarettes for male smokers and 15 for female smokers.

Multiple major risk factors:

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and cigarette smoking

  • 42% of men and 35% of women had at least one of the three major risk factors.
  • 8% of men and 5% of women had two or three major risk factors, the prevalence increasing to age 50-54 and decreasing thereafter.

Overweight and obesity

  • About 60% of men and 50% of women aged 45 years and over were overweight or obese.
  • Generally, men had a higher prevalence of overweight or obesity than women. This difference was more marked in the younger than in the older age groups. Overall, however, obesity was more prevalent among women than men, particularly in the older age groups.
  • The prevalence of women defined as underweight was especially high (29%)

among women aged 20-24.

Exercise for recreation, sport or health fitness

  • About 27% of men and women had no exercise of any kind during leisure time in the preceding two weeks. They did not walk for recreation or exercise or take part in vigorous or less vigorous exercise.
  • 52% of men and 59% of women said they had walked for recreation or exercise during the preceding two weeks. 7 6% of men and 4% of women exercised regularly at a vigorous level i.e. at least 3 sessions a week at an average of at least 20 minutes each session.

Alcohol intake

  • 87% of men and 75% of women said they drank alcohol. The proportion of drinkers was lower in the older age groups.
  • When younger adults drank they did so more heavily than the older age groups, although they were likely to drink less frequently.
  • 6% of all men and 5% of all women were classified as intermediate or high risk drinkers.

Dietary behaviour

  • 20% of men and 27% of women followed some kind of special diet.
  • A fat-modified diet to lower blood fat was reported by ll% of men and almost 13% of women. In both sexes the prevalence of this diet increased with age, being around 20% for men and 23% for women at older ages.
  • At all ages, women were less likely than men to add salt to their food. Overall, 58% of women rarely or never added salt to their food compared with 49% of men.

Oral contraceptive use

  • 86% of women aged 25-39 had taken oral contraceptives at some time, the proportion decreasing with age to 33% of women aged 60-64.
  • 56% of women in the age group 20-24 who had taken the oral contraceptive pill at some time were current users.