4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Sep 2017  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/09/2017   
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HEALTH

The Health section contains the following sub-topics:
  • Health Status (life expectancy, long-term health conditions, living with disability, psychological distress, mental health)
  • Deaths (death rates, rates by condition/cause of death, perinatal deaths)
  • Risk Factors (Consumption of alcohol, smoking, overweight and obesity, levels of exercise)
  • Services (Medicare services, such as general practitioner visits and selected medical tests)

Detailed data for these sub-topics is available from the Downloads tab above (see Tables 7, 8 and 9).


INSIGHTS

Health Status

Life expectancy

In 2013-15, Australian life expectancy at birth was 80.4 years for males and 84.5 years for females: that is, based on current mortality rates, a boy born in 2013-2015 could expect to live roughly 80 years, while a girl could expect to live 85 years. The gap between male and female life expectancy rates has not changed since 2012 (see Table 7.1 via the Downloads tab for more detail).

As at 2013-15, 60% of females born are expected to survive from birth to age 85, compared with 45% of males (see Table 7.1).

Long-term health conditions

In 2014-15, after adjusting for age, females were slightly more likely to report a long-term health condition than males (80% compared with 77%) (see Figure 1 below, and Table 7.3 for more detail).

The most prevalent long-term conditions reported were mental and behavioural conditions (16% of males and 19% of females), and arthritis (12% of males and 16% of females).

While females were more likely to have asthma, arthritis, and mental and behavioural conditions, males had higher rates of heart, stroke and vascular disease and diabetes. These differences tended to grow wider with age. Proportions of men and women aged 75 years and over with arthritis, for example, were 41% and 63% respectively.

In childhood, however, boys aged 0-14 were more likely to have asthma (12% compared with 10% of girls) and more likely to have a mental or behavioural condition (11% compared with 7% of girls).

Graph Image for Figure 1 - All persons, one or more reported long-term health conditions by sex, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes current conditions which have lasted or are expected to last for six months or more. There was a change in collection methodology for mental and behavioural conditions between 2011-12 and 2014-15, meaning that these data are not directly comparable between 2014-15 and earlier years.

Source(s): Customised data, ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2001 to 2014-15



Living with disability

In 2015, after adjusting for the effects of age, 17% of both males and females were living with disability, with 5% of each reporting profound or severe core activity limitation (see Table 7.6).

Over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported a disability in 2014-15 (50% of males and 51% of females, after adjusting for age), with around 9% of males and 10% of females reporting a profound or severe core activity limitation. See Table 7.7 for more detail.

Mental health

- Psychological distress

In 2014-15, after adjusting for the effects of age, 14% of women and 10% of men aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. Young women aged 18-24 years were the most likely to report high levels of psychological distress (20%, compared with 11% of young men this age). See Figure 2 below, and Table 7.8 via the Downloads tab for more detail.

Graph Image for Figure 2 - High and very high level of psychological distress by sex, 18-24, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Distress levels calculated using the Kessler 10 scale of psychological distress (K10).

Source(s): Customised data, ABS National Health Survey, 2001 to 2014-15



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over were nearly three times as likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress as non-Indigenous Australians, at just over 26% and 37% respectively for men and women after adjusting for age (see Table 7.9).

- Mental health conditions

In 2014-15, 19% of females and 16% of males reported having a mental and behavioural condition. Mood (affective) disorders, such as depression and anxiety related conditions, were most commonly reported for both males and females across all age groups. A higher proportion of females than males reported anxiety related conditions, particularly those aged 15-24 years (19% compared with 8% of males in this age group). Women were also more likely than men to report mood disorders.

Graph Image for Figure 3 - All persons, long-term mental and behavioural conditions by selected condition and sex, 2014-15 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Data volunteered from people that have been told by a doctor or nurse they have a mental health condition, and the condition has lasted or is expected to last for six months or more.

Source(s): Customised data, ABS National Health Survey, 2014-15



See Table 7.12 for more detail on long-term mental and behavioural conditions.


Deaths

Death rates

The standardised death rate for males and females in 2015 was 6.5 and 4.6 deaths per 1,000 people, respectively. This rate has been declining for both males and females over the past 10 years, continuing a long established trend.

Across all ages, males have higher age-specific death rates than females. This is particularly the case for young men aged 20-24 years, with an age-specific death rate 3 times higher than women the same age (0.6 compared with 0.2 deaths per 1,000 people). See Table 8.1 for more detail.

Cause of death

Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia for both males and females. In 2015, males died from heart disease at a standardised death rate nearly twice that of women (88.0 deaths per 100,000 males compared to 47.4 deaths per 100,000 females). From 2005 to 2015, the death rate declined for both sexes, although it remained consistently higher for males than females.

Standardised death rates for dementia and Alzheimer's disease are higher for females (42.9 deaths per 100,000) than males (35.4 deaths per 100,000), which is likely to relate to the longer life expectancy of women.

Males die from lung cancer at a higher rate than females, although this gap has narrowed over time. The lung cancer death rate for males decreased from 49.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 38.9 in 2015. Over this period the female rate remained relatively stable (23.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 compared with 23.5 in 2015).

In 2015, breast cancer was the second highest cause of death by cancer for women, with 2,939 deaths (a rate of 20.1 deaths per 100,000 females).

The death rate from suicide is more than three times higher for males than females. In 2015, standardised death rates were 19.3 deaths per 100,000 males, and 6.1 deaths per 100,000 females. Just under 2,300 males and 735 females died from intentional self-harm in Australia in 2015: an average of 6 males and 2 females every day.

For more detail on death rates from specific causes of death, see Tables 8.4 to 8.10.

Perinatal deaths

In 2015, the perinatal death rate (per 1,000 births) was 8.1 for male babies, and 7.6 for female babies (see Table 8.11). This is the lowest perinatal death rate for female babies since 2004.

For the past decade (2005 to 2015), the average rate for perinatal deaths where at least one parent was of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin was 11.4 for male babies and 9.5 for female babies. In comparison, the average rate for perinatal deaths where neither parent identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander was 8.4 and 7.8, respectively. See Table 8.12 for more detail.


Risk Factors

Alcohol consumption

In 2014-15, 86% of men and 76% of women aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol in the past year.

Fewer men and women are consuming alcohol in quantities which present a lifetime risk according to the 2009 NHMRC guidelines. Levels of risky consumption have been decreasing since 2004-05, with the largest decrease being for men between 2011-12 and 2014-15 (a 4.5 percentage point decrease). Men are still more likely to exceed the guidelines than women, however: in 2014-15, after adjusting for the effects of age, men aged 18 years and over were more than twice as likely to exceed the guidelines as women the same age (24% compared with 8.8%). See Figure 4 below, and Table 9.1 via the Downloads tab for more detail.

Proportions of young men (aged 18-24) exceeding the lifetime risk guideline dropped from 32% in 2001 to 19% in 2014-15. Proportions of older women exceeding the threshold, however, have been rising - from 5.9% of women aged 65 years and over in 2001 to 9.9% in 2014-15 (see Table 9.1).

Graph Image for Figure 4 - Persons 18 years and over who exceeded the lifetime risk alcohol guideline, by sex, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) More than two standard drinks per day on average. (b) Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001)



Smoking

Fewer men and women are smoking, continuing the long term trend. Between 2001 and 2014-15, the decrease in smoking rates for women was largest for those aged 25-34 years. Over this fairly short period of time, rates for this age group halved, dropping from 28% to 14%. The largest decrease for men was also in the younger age groups: rates for young men aged 18-24 years dropped from 35% in 2001 to 16% in 2014-15 (see Table 9.3).

Graph Image for Figure 5 - All persons 18 years and over, current smokers, by sex, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes Current smoker daily, Current smoker weekly (at least once a week but not daily) and Current smoker less than weekly. (b) Persons aged 18 years and over. Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001)



Overweight/obesity

Between 1995 and 2014-15, after adjusting for age, proportions of men (18 years and over) who were obese increased from 19% to 28%, while those of women increased from 19% to 27%. A further 43% of men and 28% of women were overweight in 2014-15 (see Table 9.5).

Graph Image for Figure 6 - All persons 18 years and over, measured overweight and obesity, by sex, 1995 to 2014-15 (a)(b)(c)

Footnote(s): (a) Measured Body Mass Index is based on measured height and weight. (b) In 2014-15, 26.8% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their height, weight or both measured. For these respondents, imputation was used to obtain height, weight and BMI scores. (c) Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): Customised data, ABS National Health Survey, 2014-15



The largest increase in rates of obesity for men over the past twenty years was for those aged 65-74 years: between 1995 and 2014-15 rates for men this age climbed from 21% to 38%. For women, the largest increase over this time was for those aged 35-44, up from 17% in 1995 to 31% in 2014-15. See Table 9.5 for more detail.

Level of exercise

Levels of exercise differ for males and females, with females 15 years and over more likely to be sedentary or engage in low levels of exercise than males the same age (see Level of exercise in the Health Glossary for definitions). In 2014-15, after adjusting for the effects of age, 69% of females and 61% of males were sedentary or engaged in low levels of exercise. More people were exercising at medium or high levels than they were in 2007-08, however, when 76% of females and 69% of males were sedentary or engaged in low levels of exercise (see Table 9.8).

Medicare Services

Medicare services include a range of medical services that are provided for free or at a lower cost, such as visits to general practitioners, specialists and optometrists, and free care as a public patient in a public hospital. The average number of Medicare services processed per year for both males and females has steadily increased between 2005-06 and 2015-16 (from 10 and 14 services per year, respectively, to 13 and 18 respectively). Overall, the number of Medicare services processed is higher for females than males. In the ten years between 2005-06 and 2015-16, females claimed an average of 16 services annually, compared with an average of 12 services per year for males (see Table 9.11).

This is not the case for older people, however. Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, the average number of Medicare services processed for men aged 65 years and over consistently exceeded that of women the same age (an average of 35 services per year, compared with 29 per year for women). See Table 9.11 for more details.