How does the health of females and males compare?

Physical activity, diet and body weight

Physical activity

In 2017–18, 5 in 10 men and 4 in 10 women were sufficiently physically active. (a)

Fruit and vegetable intake

In 2017–18, fewer than 1 in 30 men and 1 in 15 women ate enough fruit and vegetables. (a)

Sugar sweetened drinks

In 2017–18, men were almost twice as likely as women to drink sugar sweetened drinks daily. (a)

Overweight and obesity

In 2017–18, 7 in 10 men and 6 in 10 women were overweight or obese. (b)

Tobacco smoking and alcohol

Daily smoking

In 2017–18, men were 1.5 times as likely to smoke daily as women. (a)


In 2017–18, 1 in 4 men and 1 in 11 women were consuming alcohol at levels placing them at lifetime risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury. (a)

Other risk factors


In 2016–17, 9 in 10 people killed at work were men. (c)

Physical violence

In 2016, 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15. (d)

Sexual violence

In 2016, 1 in 20 men and 4 in 20 women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. (d)

How healthy are males and females?

Self-assessed health status

In 2017–18, males and females were equally likely to rate their health as excellent or very good. (b)

Chronic conditions

In 2017–18, around 1 in 2 males and females had at least 1 of the 10 selected common chronic conditions. (b)

Multiple chronic conditions

In 2017–18, around 1 in 6 males and 1 in 4 females had more than 1 of the 10 selected chronic conditions. (b)

Sexually transmitted infections

In 2017, rates of new STI cases were up to 8 times higher in males than females for all STIs except chlamydia. (f)

Burden of disease

Causes of total burden

In 2015, males experienced a higher proportion of their total burden (DALY) from dying early due to disease and injury (55%) while females experienced more of their burden from living with disease (56%). (e)

Leading cause of disease burden

In 2015, the leading cause of total disease burden in both males and females was coronary heart disease. (e)

Life expectancy and mortality

Life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth for males born in 2015–17 was 80.5 years, and females born in the same period have a life expectancy at birth of 84.6 years. (g)

Causes of death

In 2017, the leading cause of death for males was coronary heart disease (10,514 deaths) and for females it was Dementia and Alzheimer disease (8,859 deaths). (g)

Primary health care

Barriers to seeing a GP

In 2018–19, 1 in 25 females and 1 in 40 males delayed seeing, or did not see, a GP when needed because of cost reasons at least once in the previous 12 months.(h)

  1. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019a. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18, detailed microdata, DataLab. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of ABS microdata.
  2. ABS 2018. National Health Survey: First results 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
  3. Safe Work Australia 2018. Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2016. Safe Work Australia: Canberra.  
  4. ABS 2017. Personal Safety Survey, Australia, 2016. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS.
  5. AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Australian Burden of Disease series no.19. Cat. no. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW.
  6. Kirby Institute 2018. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual Surveillance report 2018. Sydney: Kirby Institute.
  7. AIHW 2019. Deaths in Australia. Cat. no. PHE 229. Canberra: AIHW.
  8. ABS 2019. Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018–19. ABS cat. no. 4839.0. Canberra: ABS.