4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
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Contents >> Health Risk Factors >> MULTIPLE RISK FACTORS


In this chapter, health risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and overweight/obesity have been assessed largely in isolation from one another. However, the level of risk attached to a particular factor may depend on whether other factors are also present, as risk factors tend to coexist and be interactive in their effects (AIHW 2006c). The Burden of Disease study assessed the impact of selected risk factors on the burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Together, these risk factors explained 37% of the total burden of disease experienced by Indigenous Australians in 2003 (Vos et al 2007). The study also found that almost half of the burden of disease gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was due to these risk factors (Vos et al. 2007).

For the total Indigenous population, the ten risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease together explained 69% of the total cardiovascular disease burden. Tobacco contributed the most to this cause, followed closely by high body mass, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. In contrast, 69% of the diabetes burden was explained by the combination of only two risk factors - high body mass and physical inactivity. This indicates the potential to considerably reduce the disease and injury experienced by Indigenous Australians with interventions targeted at the specific risk factors for each disease/condition (Vos et al 2007).

The 2004-05 NATSIHS and NHS show that, on average, Indigenous adults in non-remote areas reported more multiple risk factors (2.0) than did non-Indigenous adults (1.6) (where the risk factors examined were smoking, long-term risky/high risk alcohol consumption, sedentary/low levels of exercise and overweight/obesity). Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Indigenous adults in non-remote areas reported two or more risk factors in 2004-05, compared with half (52%) of non-Indigenous adults (graph 8.12). In both populations, the most common combinations of multiple risk factors included physical inactivity and overweight/obesity.

8.12 NUMBER OF RISK FACTORS REPORTED(a)(b), Persons aged 18 years and over in non-remote areas - 2004-05
Graph: 8.12 Number of risk factors reported, by Indigenous status, Persons aged 18 years and over in non-remote areas, 2004-05

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