A statistical analysis of Australia Day BBQs by the ABS

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24 January 2018
Embargo 11:30 am (Canberra Time)
A statistical analysis of Australia Day BBQs by the ABS

Australia Day is a day that many of us take a break, socialise, and think about our national identity.

To mark the occasion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has checked the statistics to answer the question: What are we actually like?

Getting Born

While the 26th of January is a day when Australians can tend to indulge in some things, one thing they’re not very likely to be doing is having a baby. Indeed, Australia Day is the 5th least common day of the year for babies to be born in Australia, according to recently released ABS data. This situation is potentially a result of doctors themselves scheduling fewer deliveries on a public holiday, and instead delivering sausages in bread to family and friends.

What’s actually on the barbecue?

The traditional notion of a barbeque on Australia Day is sure to play itself out in thousands of parks and backyards nationwide, but what’s actually on the grill?

The National Health Survey conducted in 2011-12 found that Australians aged 2 years and over reported consuming an estimated 3.1 kilograms of foods and beverages (including water) per day, made up from a wide variety of foods across the major food groups.

Meat, poultry and game products and dishes were consumed by around seven out of ten (69%) people on the day prior to interview. Chicken was the most commonly consumed meat within this category with 31% either eating a piece of chicken or eating chicken as part of mixed dish. Beef was consumed by 20% (either alone or in a mixed dish).

Quenching the thirst

Are we all standing around the barbecue with a beer? Not quite. Alcohol consumption per capita has decreased in Australia during the five years to 2016. In terms of pure alcohol content, the figure has fallen from 10.3 litres in 2011, to 9.7 litres in 2016. And when we do drink alcohol, we’re less likely to be drinking beer than in years gone by. In 1995-96, beer represented 54% of all pure alcohol consumed, and this figure fell to 40% in 2015-16.

In 2014-15, 80.6% of Australians aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol in the past year. A further 8.2% had consumed alcohol 12 or more months ago, and 10.7% had never consumed alcohol. More males had consumed alcohol in the past year (85.6%) than females (75.7%).While it’s likely that quite a few Australians will be partaking on January 26, millions of Australians will have alcohol-free drinks in their cups.

Backyard cricket?

Of the Australian population aged 15 years and over, an estimated 60% (11.1 million people) reported that they had participated in sport and physical recreation at least once in 2013–14, compared with 65% in 2011-12.

Walking for exercise was the most popular physical recreational activity, with 19% of people aged 15 years and over walking for exercise at least once in the 12 months prior to interview. Fitness and gym was the next most popular activity (17%), while only 1.2% of people took part in outdoor cricket. So if the cricket bat does come out in a backyard near you, expect a few wide balls and missed shots.

A cigarette behind the garden shed

While a backyard party in years gone by may have featured quite a few people sneaking off to the bottom of the garden for a smoke, the decades of public health campaigns seem to be making an impact.

In 2014-15, 14.5% of adults aged 18 years and over were daily smokers (2.6 million adults), down from 16.1% in 2011-12. This decrease is a continuation of the trend over the past two decades. In 2001, 22.4% of adults smoked daily while 23.8% of adults smoked daily in 1995.

Media Note:
  • “Pure alcohol” refers to the alcohol content in different types of alcoholic beverages (as distinct from the volume of beverage consumed).
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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