4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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This release presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) 2017-18 National Health Survey (NHS).


  • In 2017-18, over half (56.4%) of Australians aged 15 years and over considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health, while 14.7% reported being in fair or poor health. This has remained constant over the last 10 years.
  • Around one in eight (13.0% or 2.4 million) adults experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, an increase from 2014-15 (11.7% or 2.1 million).


Just under half (47.3%) of Australians had one or more chronic conditions in 2017-18, an increase from 2007-08 when two-fifths (42.2%) of people had one or more chronic conditions.

Chronic health conditions experienced in Australia in 2017-18 were:
  • Mental and behavioural conditions - 4.8 million people (20.1%)
  • Back problems - 4.0 million people (16.4%)
  • Arthritis - 3.6 million people (15.0%)
  • Asthma - 2.7 million people (11.2%)
  • Diabetes mellitus- 1.2 million people (4.9%) comprising Type 1 Diabetes - 144,800 people (0.6%) and Type 2 Diabetes - 998,100 people (4.1%)
  • Heart, stroke and vascular disease - 1.2 million people (4.8%)
  • Osteoporosis - 924,000 people (3.8%)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - 598,800 people (2.5%)
  • Cancer - 432,400 people (1.8%)
  • Kidney disease - 237,800 people (1.0%)

  • In 2017-18, one in five (20.1%) or 4.8 million Australians had a mental or behavioural condition, an increase from 4.0 million Australians (17.5%) in 2014-15.
  • In 2017-18, 3.2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition, an increase from 11.2% in 2014-15.
  • One in ten people (10.4%) had depression or feelings of depression, an increase from 8.9% in 2014-15.


  • Since 1995, the proportion of adults who are daily smokers has decreased from 23.8% to 13.8% in 2017-18. Over recent years however, the daily smoking rate remained relatively similar (14.5% in 2014-15).
  • The proportion of adults who have never smoked has increased from 49.4% in 2007-08 to 52.6% in 2014-15 and 55.7% in 2017-18.
  • Three in four (75.3%) young adults (18-24 year olds) have never smoked, up from 69.5% in 2014-15.
  • Men continued to be more likely than women to smoke daily (16.5% compared to 11.1%).
  • Rates for both men and women have declined since 1995 when 27.3% of men and 20.3% of women smoked daily. However, these rates have remained similar since 2014-15 (16.9% for men and 12.1% for women).
  • On average, current daily smokers smoked 12.3 cigarettes per day, which is just over half a pack (a pack is considered to be 20 cigarettes). On average, men smoked more than women (13.0 cigarettes compared with 11.4).
  • Northern Territory had the highest rate of daily smokers (around one in five; 19.6%) compared with one in ten (10.6%) in Australian Capital Territory.

Overweight and obesity
  • In 2017-18, two thirds (67.0%) of Australian adults were overweight or obese (12.5 million people), an increase from 63.4% in 2014-15.
  • This change was driven by the increase in the proportion of adults categorised as obese, which increased from 27.9% to 31.3%
  • There was a large increase for those aged 18-24 years, with 38.9% overweight or obese in 2014-15 compared with 46.0% in 2017-18.
  • In 2017-18, a greater proportion of men aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese than women (74.5% and 59.7% respectively).
  • Almost one quarter (24.9%) of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese in 2017-18 (17% overweight and 8.1% obese). The rates were similar for boys and girls and this has remained stable over the previous ten years.

Alcohol consumption
  • One in six (16.1%) persons aged 18 years and over consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guideline in 2017-18. This continued to decline from 17.4% in 2014-15 and 19.5% in 2011-12. More than one in five (23.7%) men and around one in eleven women (8.8%) exceeded the lifetime risk guideline in 2017-18. Whilst men were more likely than women to exceed the guideline, the proportion of men exceeding declined since 2014-15 (25.8%) whilst for women the rate remains largely unchanged (9.3%)
  • Just over two in five (42.1%) adults aged 18 years and over, consumed more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the past year, exceeding the single occasion risk guideline which is a decrease from 44.0% in 2014-15.
  • Men were more likely to exceed the single occasion risk guideline than women, with 54.2% and 30.5% consuming more than four standard drinks respectively. However the proportion of men exceeding the guideline continued to decline from 56.8% in 2014-15, whilst for women the proportion remained constant (31.7% in 2014-15).

High blood pressure
  • In 2017-18, just over one in five (22.8% or 4.3 million people) Australians aged 18 years and over had a measured high blood pressure reading. This has remained unchanged since 2014-15 (23.0%).

Fruit and vegetable consumption
  • In 2017-18, just over half (51.3%) of Australians aged 18 years and over met the guidelines for the recommended daily serves of fruit (2 or more serves).
  • One in thirteen (7.5%) adults met the guidelines for serves of vegetables (5-6 or more serves for men depending on age, and 5 or more for women).
  • Only one in twenty (5.4%) adults met both the fruit and the vegetable recommendations. These rates have remained fairly consistent over time.
  • One in seventeen (6.0%) children aged 2-17 years met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of both fruit and vegetables in 2017-18. Over seven in ten (73.0%) children ate the recommended serves of fruit, an increase from 2014-15 (70.1%)

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption
  • Almost one in eleven (9.1%) adults and one in fourteen (7.1%) children (aged 2-17 years) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily.
  • Men were almost twice as likely as women to usually consume sugar sweetened drinks daily (11.8% compared with 6.4% respectively). Men who were daily consumers also drink more per day, averaging 3.3 cups (825 ml or 2.2 cans) per day compared with women who consume 2.5 cups per day.
  • Less people consume diet drinks daily; 4.8% of adults and 1.3% of children. Men (daily consumers) consume on average 3.1 cups per day compared with women who consume 2.6 cups (650 ml) per day.
  • More than half of adults (52.0%) and children (55.2%) did not consume any sugar sweetened or diet drinks.

Physical activity
  • Overall Australians aged 15 years and over exercised 42 minutes per day on average, the largest part of which consisted of walking for transport and walking for exercise (24.6 minutes).
  • However, only a minority met the physical activity guidelines with 1.9% of 15-17 year olds, 15.0% of 18-64 year olds and 17.2% of 65 year olds and over meeting the 2014 Physical Activity Guidelines in 2017-18.
  • One in ten (10.3%) 15-17 year olds engaged in 60 minutes of exercise (excluding workplace physical activity) every day and around one in six (15.8%) did strength or toning activities on three or more days in the last week.
  • More than half (55.4%) of 18-64 years olds undertook 150 minutes or more of exercise in the last week, excluding workplace physical activity and this increased to 65.5% when workplace physical activity was included.
  • One quarter (24.9%) of 18-64 year olds undertook strength or toning activities on two or more days in the last week.
  • Just over a quarter (26.1%) of older adults (65 years and over) engaged in 30 minutes of exercise on 5 or more days in the last week.
  • Adults aged 18-64 years described their day at work as mostly sitting (43.7%), 22.8% described their day as mostly walking, 19.5% as mostly standing and 13.6% as mostly heavy labour or physically demanding work.