Facts for Women's Health Week (Media Release)

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11 September 2015
Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)

Facts for Women's Health Week

Women's Health Week is an annual event dedicated to all women across Australia, and a time for women to focus on their health, learn more and take action.

From 7 through to 11 September, 2015 Women's Health Week states - No more elephants! It’s time to ask questions, seek out credible information and work out a sound plan of action. It’s time to talk – It is time to get rid of the elephant in the room and get talking about women’s health.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has compiled a list of facts about Australia's women, their health, and the health services they utilise regularly to help get the conversation started, and to help talk about the elephant in the room.

Healthy eating and drinking
    • Just over half of Australian women consumed the recommended serves of fruit a day (58 per cent).
    • Nearly three quarters of females (73 per cent) aged two years and over did not meet requirements for calcium based on their usual intakes of foods and beverages only.
    • Over 1 in 5 women (22.8 per cent) over the age of 65 years having osteoporosis. Low calcium intake is linked to osteoporosis.
On a more positive note, the proportion of adult women who smoke daily decreased from 19.5 per cent in 2001 to 14.4 per cent in 2011-12.

Heart health
In 2013, heart disease was the leading cause of death for all Australians. While more men than women die from heart disease, it still accounted for 8,750 female deaths in 2013.

In terms of current rates of heart disease, around 482,300 (4.5 per cent) Australian women reported they had heart disease in 2011-12. The proportion of women with heart disease increases steadily with age, with the highest rate being for women aged 85 years and over (34.3 per cent).
    • High blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart disease. In 2011-12, almost one in four adult women (19.5 per cent) measured having high blood pressure.
    • Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing long-term health conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. In 2011-12, 55.7 per cent of women 18 years and over were overweight or obese.

Dementia and Alzheimer's
The second leading cause of death for women was Dementia and Alzheimer's, accounting for 7,277 deaths in 2013 - around twice as many as for men (3,656 deaths).

Mental health
More adult women than men experience high or very high psychological distress. In 2011-12, this affected 12.7 per cent of women and 8.8 per cent of men.

Access to Health services
General Practitioners (GPs) were the most common health service accessed in 2013-14, with 87.3 per cent of Australian women 15 years and over seeing a GP at least once in the previous 12 months, compared with 76.8 per cent of men.

For comprehensive data and analysis, check out the Australian Health Survey, Patient Experiences in Australia (Cat. no 4839.0) and Causes of Death, Australia (Cat. no 3303.0), available for free download from the ABS website www.abs.gov.au

Media notes:
  • 'Heart disease' refers to ischaemic heart diseases, including angina, blocked arteries of the heart, and heart attack (I20-I25).
  • Adult women refers to females aged 18 years and over.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.