Chronic disease fears for Australia
An overwhelming majority of Australians have at least two preventable factors increasing their risk of developing chronic conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
More than 87 per cent of Australians have at least two risk factors for chronic disease, according to a report to be released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Only 1.5 per cent of Australians had no risk factors and 11 per cent had a single risk factor.
Institute of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Ann Hunt said that only 40 per cent of Australians did enough physical activity to gain sufficient health benefits and 90 per cent failed to consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables each day.
''This is important because we know that people with low fruit and vegetable intake have higher risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes,'' Ms Hunt said.
The more risk factors a person had, the greater the likelihood that they would develop some chronic diseases.
Men with five or more risk factors were twice as likely to report experiencing depression than men with two or fewer risk factors.
Women with five or more risk factors were three times more likely to experience a stroke and two and half times more likely to report depression than women with two or fewer risk factors.
''People who consume alcohol at risky levels are more likely to report daily smoking than those who don't, and daily smoking is also more commonly reported by those who have insufficient levels of physical activity,'' Ms Hunt said.
''For people who are obese, high blood pressure is more common as a co-risk factor than for people who are not obese.''
The report said that multiple risk factors could result in either the earlier development of a chronic condition, the increased need for management of a condition or death.
''Individual risk factors can affect a person's health significantly, but at what point they do so is not determined.''
The report found that almost 60 per cent of Australians did not undertake enough exercise to incur health benefits.
''Sufficient activity is defined as at least 150 minutes in 1 week over at least 5 sessions,'' the report said.
''A sedentary lifestyle is increasingly recognised as being detrimental to health, as it can contribute to many chronic diseases as well as an increased risk of mortality. More than 80 per cent of Australians spend more than three hours each day sitting during their leisure time, regardless of whether they undertake sufficient physical activity.
Seventeen per cent of males had five or more risk factors, compared to 11 per cent of females.