Chronic diseases - good news and bad news for Australians

According to a new national report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), when it comes to chronic diseases there is good news and bad news.

The report - 'Indicators for chronic disease and their determinants, 2008' - focuses on the 12 chronic conditions that represent a large burden of disease in Australia and highlights both favourable and unfavourable trends.

The good news is that heart attacks and deaths after heart attacks are trending downwards and the same applies for lung cancer where rates have decreased for males, but they have increased for females since 1982 with just 14 per cent of women surviving beyond five years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Ilona Brockway, of the AIHW's Population Health Unit says for the majority of indicators that they looked at over the last 10 to 20 years, there has been a favourable trend, or no apparent trend.

Brockway says daily smoking rates continue to decline so that, currently, under 20% of adults smoke daily but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote areas of Australia, about half are daily smokers.

The report also shows that bowel cancer incidence rates have risen in the last decade, to the point where it is the second most common cancer in Australians but survival rates have improved.

There was also significant room for improvement as far as exercise is concerned with two-thirds of Australian adults not exercising enough to benefit their health; national guidelines recommend that adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.

Ms Brockway also says the proportion of Australians reporting Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in 10 years, from around 2% in 1995 to almost 5% in 2004-05, and rates of overweight or obese adults have also increased since 1995.

The AIHW says indigenous people were also more likely to suffer from diabetes.

The proportion of low birthweight live born babies in 2004 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 13 per cent and the overall picture painted of indigenous health is not good with the gap between the health of indigenous and non-indigenous people remaining significant.

Obesity in males has increased from 11% to 18% and for females from 11% to 15% over the period 1995 to 2004-05 and in the year 2004-05, almost 60% of males and 40% of females were either overweight or obese.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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