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4364.0 - National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/1997   
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MEDIA RELEASE

August 28, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
121/1997

ABS health report on Australia

Most Australians aged 15 or more consider themselves to be in good health or better according to figures released today by the ABS.

Final results of the 1995 National Health Survey showed that 83 per cent considered themselves to be in good, very good or excellent health. Despite this, 83 per cent of people in this age group reported having one or more long-term medical condition.

The conditions most commonly reported were long or short sight (51 per cent), arthritis (19 per cent), hayfever (16 per cent) and hypertension (13 per cent). Long term conditions most common among children (less than 15) were respiratory conditions, particularly asthma and hayfever. Across all age groups, 18 per cent reported a medical condition due to an accident or exposure.

Seventy per cent of males and 80 per cent of females and reported taking action for their health in the previous two weeks. Almost 70 per cent used medication, 23 per cent consulted a doctor, 6 per cent consulted a dentist and 10 per cent consulted an other health professional. Most common reasons for doctor consultations were respiratory conditions (including asthma, hayfever and colds and flu) and examination or check-up.

Vitamins and minerals (21 per cent of persons), pain relievers (20 per cent) and skin ointments and creams (9 per cent) were the most commonly used medications. In addition, 11 per cent reported using herbal or natural remedies.

Nine per cent of employed persons had time off work during the previous two weeks due to illness or injury. Among those, average time away was 2.9 days.

Overall, 24 per cent of adults were smokers, with the highest proportion in younger age groups (31 per cent of those aged less than 35). Over half (55 per cent) of adults reported having an alcoholic drink in the previous week, but 85 per cent of these reported drinking at levels considered to be a low health risk.

Based on self-reported height and weight, Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated for people aged 15 or more. Around 55 per cent of men and women rated in the acceptable weight range for their height. A higher proportion of males (40 per cent) than females (28 per cent) were recorded as being overweight or obese. When asked to assess their own weight, 58 per cent of females assessed their weight as acceptable, 39 per cent as overweight and 6 per cent as underweight. Almost 40 per cent of young women (aged 15-24) considered themselves to be in a higher weight category than indicated by their BMI.

Over 80 per cent of people had used some form of sun protection in the previous month. Among children, 87 per cent had used sun protection, most commonly hats, and 84 per cent were reported as always or usually using sun protection.

Details are in National Health Survey: Summary of Results, Australia 1995 (cat. no. 4364.0) available from ABS bookshops.

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