4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
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Key Findings

This publication summarises the general health, long-term health conditions and health risk factors of Australians for each State and Territory from the 2017-18 National Health Survey.

General Health
  • In 2017-18, over half (56.4%) of Australians aged 15 years and over considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health with the highest rate in Western Australia (60.7%) and the lowest rate in Tasmania (51.2%).
  • Rates of high or very high levels of psychological distress among adults aged 18 years and over ranged from 11.1% in Australian Capital Territory to 13.9% in Queensland and (13.0%) in Australia.

Chronic conditions (Persons, all ages)
Chronic conditions experienced in Australia in 2017-18

Range

Chronic conditionsAustraliaFromTo

Mental and behavioural conditions 4.8 million people (20.1%)15.9% in Northern Territory 22.7% in Queensland
Back problems4.0 million people (16.4%)13.7% in Northern Territory18.2% in Tasmania
Asthma2.7 million people (11.2%)7.4% in Northern Territory13.0% in South Australia, 12.9% in Tasmania
Diabetes mellitus1.2 million people (4.9%)4.0% in Australian Capital Territory6.0% in South Australia
Heart, stroke and vascular disease1.2 million people (4.8%)2.0% in Northern Territory6.0% in Tasmania
Osteoporosis924,000 people (3.8%)1.1% in Northern Territory5.0% in Tasmania
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)598,800 people (2.5%)1.7% in Northern Territory3.4% in Queensland
Cancer 432,400 people (1.8%)1.5% in Western Australia3.0% in Tasmania
Kidney disease237,800 people (1.0%)0.5% in Tasmania1.5% in Northern Territory


Health risk factors

Smoking

Adults (18 years and over)
  • In 2017-18, just under one in seven (13.8%) Australian adults were daily smokers.
  • The Northern Territory had the highest rate of daily smokers (19.6%) compared with the lowest rate (10.6%) in the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Capital Territory also had the largest proportion of people who have never smoked (59.7%) in comparison with just under half (49.4%) in the Northern Territory.
  • Proportionally, more men than women were daily smokers (16.5% and 11.1%, respectively) across all state and territories.
  • Daily smokers men
    • Highest: Northern Territory (21.9%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (12.7%)
  • Daily smokers women
    • Highest: Northern Territory (17.3%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (8.8%)
  • Whilst all States and Territories have observed a decline in daily smokers since 1995, the rates have remained similar since 2014-15, with the exception of Western Australia which declined from 14.3% to 11.8%.
  • New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have experienced increases in the proportion of adults who have never smoked since 2014-15.
  • On average, Australian adults who were 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).
  • Average cigarette consumption men
    • Highest: Tasmania (14.5)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (11.1)
  • Average cigarette consumption women
    • Highest: Australian Capital Territory (12.4)
    • Lowest: South Australia (10.8) and Tasmania (11.0)

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion by current smoker status, 2001 to 2017-18

Footnote(s): (a) Data for 2001 and 2004-05 not included for Northern Territory due to high margin of error.

Source(s): National Health Survey, 2017-18


Overweight and obesity

Adults (18 years and over)
  • In 2017-18, 67.0% of Australian adults were overweight or obese.
  • Tasmania had the highest rate of adults who were overweight or obese (70.9%), compared with Australian Capital Territory (64.0%) who had the lowest.
  • In 2017-18, the states which saw increases in the proportion of adults that were overweight or obese from 2014-15 were Victoria (increased from 63.3% to 68.3%), South Australia (increased from 65.8% to 69.7%), and Tasmania (increased from 67.5% to 70.9%).
  • Across all States and Territories, men were more likely than women to be overweight or obese. Tasmania had the highest proportion of men overweight or obese (76.7%) while Australian Capital Territory had the lowest (70.5%). For women, Tasmania also had the highest proportion overweight or obese (65.3%) compared with New South Wales (58.0%), Northern Territory (57.5%) and the Australian Capital Territory which had similarly low rates (57.2%).
  • The proportion of adults who were overweight or obese in general increased with age.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion by healthy weight range and overweight or obese, 2007-08 to 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey, 2017-18


Children (2-17 years)
  • In 2017-18, almost one quarter (24.9%) of Australian children were overweight or obese (17% overweight and 8.1% obese).
  • Across all States and Territories, the proportion of children (boys and girls) who were overweight or obese has remained stable since 2014-15, with the exception of Victoria where this rate has declined since 2014-15 from 28.6% to 22.6%.
  • In 2017-18, children in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest rates of overweight or obese at 28.7% and 28.6% respectively. The lowest rate was 22.6% in Victoria.

Alcohol consumption[1]

Adults (18 years and over)

Lifetime risk guideline
  • One in six (16.1%) Australian adults consumed more than the recommended two standard drinks per day on average (exceeding the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council lifetime risk guidelines). Northern Territory had the highest rate (21.4%), while Victoria (14.5%) had the lowest.
  • Rates of those who exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines of alcohol consumption were higher for men than women.
  • Lifetime risk men
    • Highest: Northern Territory (29.1%)
    • Lowest: Victoria (21.0%)
  • Lifetime risk women
    • All States and Territories were similar to the national rate (8.8%), with the exception of Northern Territory (13.9%).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who exceeded the lifetime risk alcohol guideline, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey, 2017-18


Single occasion risk guideline
  • In 2017-18, 42.1% of Australian adults consumed more than 4 standard drinks at least once in the past year (exceeding the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council single occasion risk guidelines).
  • Northern Territory had the highest proportion of adults who exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines (49.1%) compared with New South Wales who had the lowest (39.1%).
  • Rates varied considerably by age and sex with men more likely to exceed the single occasion risk guidelines of alcohol than women.
  • Single occasion risk men
    • Highest: Northern Territory (60.7%)
    • Lowest: New South Wales (51.1%)
  • Single occasion risk women
    • Highest: Northern Territory (37.4%)
    • Lowest: New South Wales (27.6%)

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who exceeded the single occasion risk alcohol guideline, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey, 2017-18


High blood pressure

Adults (18 years and over)
  • Just over one in five (22.8%) Australian adults had measured high blood pressure (systolic or diastolic blood pressure equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg).
  • Rates were highest in Tasmania (27.2%) compared with the Northern Territory (16.3%) which had the lowest.

Fruit and vegetable consumption[2]

Adults (18 years and over)
  • In 2017-18, 51.3% of Australian adults met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit (2 or more serves), while 7.5% met the guidelines for recommended daily 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%) Australian adults met both guidelines.
  • Adequate fruit consumption men
    • Highest: Queensland (48.1%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (41.5%)
  • Adequate fruit consumption women
    • Highest: New South Wales (57.6%)
    • Lowest: Northern Territory (51.8%) and Tasmania (52.0%)
  • Adequate vegetable consumption men
    • Highest: Northern Territory (7.0%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (2.9%)
  • Adequate vegetable consumption women
    • Highest: Tasmania (15.6%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (10.1%) and New South Wales (10.3%)

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

Adults (18 years and over)
  • Around one in two (48.0%) Australian adults consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week.
  • Adults living in the Northern Territory had the highest rate of consumption of sugar sweetened drinks with one in nine (11.7%) consuming daily compared with one in fifteen (6.7%) adults in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Across all States and Territories, adults were more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks compared with diet drinks.
  • South Australians were most likely to consume diet drinks daily (6.7%) compared with Tasmania (3.8%).
  • Across all States and Territories, men were more likely than women to consume sugar sweetened drinks.
  • Daily consumption of sugar sweetened drinks men
    • Highest: Northern Territory (15.0%)
    • Lowest: Victoria (8.0%)
  • Daily consumption of sugar sweetened drinks women
    • Highest: Northern Territory (9.6%)
    • Lowest: Australian Capital Territory (3.8%)

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion who consume sugar sweetened drinks daily, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey, 2017-18


Children (2 -17 years)
  • Around two in five Australian children (44.8%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week.
  • The highest rate of children who usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week was South Australia and the lowest rate was in the Australian Capital Territory (48.3% compared with 39.7%).
  • Tasmania had the highest rate of children who consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week (44.9%) compared with the lowest rate in the Australian Capital Territory at 36.0%. In comparison, South Australia had the highest rate of children who consume diet drinks at least once per week (12.1%) compared with the Australian Capital Territory (4.7%).

More detailed nutrition information was collected as part of the Australian Health Survey 2011-12. See Australian Health Survey: Nutrition – State and Territory results, 2011-12 (cat. No. 4364.0.55.009).

Physical activity[3]
  • Nationally, 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, thereby meeting at least one of the recommendations of the physical activity guidelines.
  • Rates varied by State and Territory with the highest proportion being in the Australian Capital Territory (62.6%), compared with the lowest in Queensland and South Australia (51.2% and 51.5% respectively).
  • The highest proportion of persons aged 18-64 years who undertook 150 minutes of physical activity (including workplace activity) in the last week was in Western Australia (70.9% ) and the lowest in South Australia and Queensland (62.5% and 62.9% respectively).

Endnotes

1 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), 2009. Australian guideline to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, Canberra: NHMRC <https://nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/alcohol >; For more information see Glossary.

2 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), 2013. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. <https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines>; For more information see Glossary.

3 Department of Health, 21 November 2017, The Department of Health: Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines>.