Australia’s Health Report Card 2016

Dr Suzanne Pearson
September 27, 2016

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released its 15th biennial health report this month. Australia's health 2016 profiles health issues across a range of topics:

  • The health status of Australians
  • Determinants of health
  • Major causes of ill health
  • Health of Indigenous Australians
  • Health expenditure

So how healthy are we?

The good news is we feel good – 85% of Australians rated their health as 'good' or better. And we’re living longer than ever before. Boys born between 2012-2014 are expected to live into their 80s (80.3 years) and girls into their mid-80s (84.4 years).


What’s the bad news?

For the first time ever, cancer (all types combined) surpassed cardiovascular disease (including coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure) for the total number of deaths.

The leading specific cause of death frontrunner continues to be coronary heart disease – a shame as a number of its risk factors are modifiable: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity, we’re looking at you.

Meanwhile, one in 20 (5.1%) Australians had diabetes in 2014-15, most of whom (85%) had type 2 diabetes – another largely preventable disease with risk factors including insufficient physical activity, saturated fat intake, obesity and smoking.

When it comes to mental health, around 45% of Australians will experience a mental disorder, including depression and anxiety in their lifetime. So how can we shape up?


What about diet and exercise?

In 2014-15, almost half (45%) of Australian adults were inactive. The majority did not eat the recommended five daily serves of vegetables (93%) and half (50%) did not eat the recommended two daily serves of fruit.

The stats were the same for children, with 97% not eating the recommended daily serves of vegetables and 30% not eating the recommended daily serves of fruit.

No surprise then Australia has the fifth highest rate of obesity for people aged 15 and over.


What can I do to improve my health?

You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it works.

  • Enjoy daily exercise
  • Eat a colourful diet rich in whole foods
  • Try mindful techniques like meditation to help de-stress
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking
  • Celebrate life every day

Dr Suzanne Pearson PhD, MNutrDiet, APD, BSc (Hons) is the Global Scientific & Medical Affairs Manager at Swisse Wellness