Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) The health of Australia’s females, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 30 January 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). The health of Australia’s females. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
The health of Australia’s females. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 December 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The health of Australia’s females [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2023 Jan. 30]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, The health of Australia’s females, viewed 30 January 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/female-health
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Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of poor health and death in Australia (AIHW 2019a).
1 in 9
Australian women smoke daily
The main data sources reporting on tobacco smoking in Australia are:
Although these surveys employ different methodologies, results for adult women were similar. Both the 2017–18 NHS and 2016 NDSHS showed that 1 in 9 (11.1%) women aged 18 or over smoked daily.
Different age groups for girls were reported in each survey. Based on the:
Based on the NDSHS, there has been a long-term downward trend in tobacco smoking among Australian females aged 14 and over, decreasing from 17.9% in 2001 to 10.7% in 2016.
Based on the 2017–18 NHS, smoking rates among adult women (aged 18 years and over) varied by age group, peaking in middle age and then decreasing with age, with rates being lowest in women aged 75 years and over (3.7%) (ABS 2018).
Daily smoking varied for some population groups. After adjusting for differences in age structure (AIHW 2017a, ABS 2019a):
Chart: AIHW. Source: ABS 2019a (see Table S8 for footnotes).
Excessive alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a variety of health problems, including liver and heart conditions, and poor mental health. It also contributes to accident and injury, such as motor vehicle accidents, physical violence and homicide.
1 in 3
Australian women are exceeding single occasion risky drinking guidelines
The main data sources reporting on alcohol consumption in Australia are the AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) and the ABS National Health Survey (NHS) Although these surveys use different methodologies, they show similar results.
Based on the most recent data from the ABS NHS, in 2017–18 (ABS 2018):
Based on the NDSHS, there has been a long-term downward trend in alcohol consumption at risky levels among Australian females, with the proportion of females aged 14 and over who were exceeding the lifetime risk guideline decreasing from 11.9% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2016. The proportion of females drinking alcohol daily has also decreased, from 5.8% in 2004 to 4.2% in 2016 (AIHW 2017b).
Note: Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Chart: AIHW. Source: ABS 2019a (see Table S9 for footnotes).
Exceeding the lifetime risk guideline varied by age group. According to 2017–18 data, 1 in 9 women (11%) aged 35–44 exceeded the lifetime alcohol risk guideline, compared with around 1 in 15 women (6.1%) aged 18–24 (Figure 11) (ABS 2019a).
The proportion of women exceeding the lifetime risk guideline varied for some population groups. After adjusting for differences in age structure (ABS 2013, ABS 2019a):
Chart: AIHW. Source: ABS 2019a (see Table S9 for footnotes).
Single occasion risk
The proportion of women exceeding the single occasion risk guideline varied by age group. According to 2017–18 data, women aged 18–24 were 5 times as likely to exceed the single occasion risk guideline as women aged 65–74 (55% and 11%, respectively) (Figure 12) (ABS 2019a).
Exceeding the single occasion guideline varied for some population groups. After adjusting for age (ABS 2019a):
Source: ABS 2019a (see Table S9 for footnotes).
Illicit substance use includes:
Illicit use of drugs can cause death and disability and is a risk factor for many diseases. The effects of short and long-term illicit drug use can be severe and can lead to poisoning, heart damage, mental illness and other adverse outcomes (AIHW 2017b). Illicit drug use is also associated with risks to users' families and friends and to the community. It contributes to social and family disruptions, violence, and crime and community safety issues. The AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey reports on illicit drug use in Australia.
In 2016, around 3 in 20 Australian females aged 14 and over (13%) had used an illicit drug or substance in the previous 12 months (AIHW 2017b).
The pattern of illicit drug or substance use differs by age groups—1 in 4 women aged 20–29 (25%) had used illicit drugs or substances in the previous 12 months compared with 1 in 17 women aged 60 or over (5.9%).
For more information, see Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2013. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012–13: First results. ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2017. Personal Safety Survey, Australia, 2016. ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018. National Health Survey: First results, 2017–18. ABS cat.no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 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.
ABS 2019b. National Health Survey: Users’ Guide, 2017–18. ABS cat.no. 4363.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019c. National Health Survey, 2017–18. Customised report. Canberra: ABS.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017a. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework 2017: supplementary online tables. Cat. no. WEB 170. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2017b. National Drug Strategy and Household Survey 2016: key findings online data tables. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019a. 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.
AIHW 2019b. Procedures and healthcare interventions (ACHI 10th edition), Australia, 2017–18. Cat. no. WEB 216. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed July 18 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/hospitals/procedures-data-cubes/contents/data-cubes
Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM & Dietz WH 2000. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ 320:1240–3.
Department of Health 2019. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. Canberra: Department of Health.
NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) 2013. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Canberra: NHMRC.
Pederson BK and Saltin B 2015. Exercise as medicine - evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 25(Suppl 3):1-72.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2011. Waist circumference and waist-hip ratio: report of a WHO expert consultation. Geneva, 8–11 December 2008.
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