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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> Health >> Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

HEALTH OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience disadvantage across a range of socio-economic indicators. There is strong evidence from Australia and other developed countries that low socio-economic status is associated with poor health and increased exposure to a range of health risk factors.


General health

In the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), conducted by the ABS, just over three-quarters of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over assessed their health as good, very good or excellent while 22% reported their health as fair or poor. After adjusting for differences in the age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous people were almost twice as likely to report their health as fair or poor.


Long-term conditions

Around two-thirds (65%) of Indigenous people had at least one long-term health condition in 2004-05 (table 11.30). While Indigenous and non-Indigenous people overall were equally likely to report a long-term condition, the prevalence of long-term condition(s) was higher among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians in the age groups from 25-54 years.

Eye/sight problems (30%), asthma (15%), back and disc disorders (13%), heart/circulatory diseases (12%) and ear/hearing problems (12%) were the most commonly reported long-term health conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2004-05. In addition, 6% of Indigenous people reported diabetes mellitus and 2% reported kidney disease. After adjusting for differences in the age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous people were more than ten times as likely as non-Indigenous people to have kidney disease, three times as likely to have diabetes, and one and a half times as likely to have asthma.

For detailed information on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease among Indigenous Australians, refer to Selected chronic conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian Social Trends, 2007 (4102.0).

11.30 INDIGENOUS PERSONS: Selected long-term health conditions and risk factors - 2004-05

Total Indigenous
Indigenous to non-Indigenous rate ratio(a)
%
%

Long-term health conditions (ICD-10)
Eye/sight problems
30
0.9
Asthma
15
1.6
Back problems
13
1.2
Ear/hearing problems(b)
12
1.0
Heart and circulatory problems/diseases
12
1.3
Arthritis
9
1.2
Diabetes mellitus
6
3.4
Kidney disease
2
10.0
Neoplasms/cancer
1
0.7
Osteoporosis
1
0.7
Lifestyle risk factors(c)
Overweight/obese
60
1.2
Current daily smoker
50
2.2
Risky/high risk alcohol consumption - short-term
19
2.1
Risky/high risk alcohol consumption - long-term
16
1.1

(a) Indigenous age-standardised proportion divided by the non-Indigenous age-standardised proportion.
(b) Rate ratio is not age-standardised for ear/ hearing problems
(c) Persons aged 18 years and over.
Source: ABS data available on request, 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, Australia.



Lifestyle risk factors

Based on self-reported height and weight information collected in the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), six in ten Indigenous adults were overweight (29%) or obese (31%), similar to non-Indigenous adults (rate ratio of 1.2) (table 11.30). The proportion of Indigenous adults who smoked regularly (usually one or more cigarettes a day) was also high at 50%, and more than twice the rate for non-Indigenous adults.

Alcohol consumption risk levels are based on National Health and Medical Research Council 2001 (NHMRC) guidelines for risk of harm in the short and long-term. In the 2004-05 NATSIHS, around half of all Indigenous adults (49%) reported having consumed alcohol in the week prior to being surveyed, and 16% reported drinking at long-term risky/high risk levels. In addition, one in five Indigenous adults (19%) reported drinking at short-term risky/high risk levels at least once a week in the last 12 months, double the rate reported by non-Indigenous adults.



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