4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2015   
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8 December 2015
Embargo: 11.30 am (Canberra Time)
Fewer Australian adults smoking

Fewer adults are smoking or drinking at risky levels while overweight and obesity rates have steadied over the past three years, according to new information published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The 2014-15 National Health Survey surveyed around 19,000 Australians between July 2014 and June 2015 and found that 14.5 per cent of adults were daily smokers, down from 16 per cent in 2011-12, and from 22 per cent in 2001.

The Northern Territory continues to have the highest rate of daily smokers at 21 per cent, followed by Tasmania (18 per cent), while the Australian Capital Territory has the lowest (12 per cent). In 2014-15, 17 per cent of adults drank more than the recommended maximum of two standard drinks of alcohol per day on average, down from 19 per cent in 2011-12.

One quarter (26 per cent) of men drank more than two standard drinks a day on average, over twice the rate of women (9 per cent).

Louise Gates from the ABS said that the first data collected since 2011-12 gives policy makers an accurate, current snapshot of Australians’ health.

“Across the board, smoking rates reflect a decrease over the last 15 years, particularly for people under 45 years. In 2014-15, 16 per cent of adults under 45 years smoked daily, compared with 28 per cent in 2001. However, there are still around 2.6 million adult Australians who smoke daily,” said Ms Gates .

While the proportion of adults who were overweight or obese in 2014-15 was similar to 2011-12 (at 63 per cent), there were 6.3 million adults who were overweight and a further 4.9 million who were obese.

“Overall, more men are overweight or obese (71 per cent) than women (56 per cent) and children aged 5 to 17 remain at about 27 per cent,” said Ms Gates.

“Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In 2014-15, 4.4 per cent of the Australian population (1.0 million people) had Type 2 diabetes, up from 3.8 per cent (840,000 people) in 2011-12.”

As part of the Survey the ABS is releasing a short animated video to highlight findings on smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity.

"We hope the video will be shared on social media platforms by stakeholders and the general public alike," said Ms Gates.

The video can be viewed here: www.abs.gov.au/videos/360-1215-003/360-1215-003.html

Media note:

  • Overweight and obesity are classified according to Body Mass Index, calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.
  • More than two standard drinks a day exceeds the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime.
  • Please ensure when reporting on ABS data that you 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.