4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
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New South Wales

How did people in New South Wales rate their health in 2017-18?

  • More than half (56.3%) of people aged 15 years and over considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health.
  • One in eight (12.8%) adults aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.

Chronic conditions (Persons, all ages)

Chronic health conditions experienced in New South Wales in 2017-18 were:
  • Mental and behavioural conditions - 1.5 million people (19.1%)
  • Arthritis - 1.2 million people (15.2%)
  • Back problems - 1.1 million people (14.6%)
  • Asthma - 829,100 people (10.7%)
  • Diabetes mellitus - 390,700 people (5.0%)
  • Heart, stroke and vascular disease - 353,100 people (4.5%)
  • Osteoporosis - 342,300 people (4.4%)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - 208,800 people (2.7%)
  • Cancer - 132,700 people (1.7%)
  • Kidney disease - 69,900 people (0.9%)

New South Wales had a higher rate of Osteoporosis compared with Australia (4.4% compared with 3.8%) and a lower rate of Back problems (14.6% compared with 16.4%). Other conditions were similar to the national rates.

Mental and behavioural conditions
  • In 2017-18, almost one in five (19.1%) people had a mental or behavioural condition, which was similar to the rate observed in 2014-15 (17.8%).
  • One in eight (12.3%) had an anxiety-related condition. This was more common among females (14.1%) than males (10.6%). These rates have remained unchanged since 2014-15.
  • Almost one in ten (9.8%) people had depression or feelings of depression, which was similar to the rate observed in 2014-15 (8.3%).

Health risk factors

Smoking

Adults (18 years and over)
  • Around one in seven (13.9%) adults were daily smokers in 2017-18. Whilst this rate has declined since 1995 (23.4%), the rate has remained similar since 2011-12 (14.3%).
  • The proportion of adults who have never smoked has increased from 52.0% in 2014-15 to 56.1% in 2017-18.
  • Young adults aged 18-24 years were more likely to have never smoked than any other adults in 2017-18 (73.0%), which was an increase from 2014-15 (64.5%). In 2017-18, two thirds of men (68.5%) and three quarters of women (78.4%) in this age group have never smoked.
  • Men continued to be more likely than women to smoke daily in 2017-18 (17.0% compared with 10.9%).
  • For men aged 18-24 years in 2017-18, almost one in five (19.0%) smoked daily; this proportion remained relatively constant until age 65-74 years where the prevalence fell to 8.7% and 5.8% at age 75 years and over.
  • For women, around one in eight (12.0%) 18-24 year olds smoked daily; this proportion remained relatively constant until age 65-74 years where the prevalence fell to 7.3%, before falling to 3.3% for women aged 75 years and over.
  • Rates of smoking were higher in areas of most disadvantage with more than one fifth (22.4%) of adults living in areas of most disadvantage (first quintile) being daily smokers, compared with 6.3% in the least disadvantaged areas (fifth quintile).
  • Rates of smoking were lower in Major Cities (12.6%) compared with Inner Regional (16.9%) and Outer Regional and Remote areas (22.1%).
  • On average, daily smokers smoked 12.7 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 (13.2 cigarettes per day compared with 11.8).

Overweight and Obesity

Adults (18 years and over)
  • Around two thirds (65.9%) of adults were overweight or obese. Slightly more than a third (34.9%) were overweight and slightly less than a third were obese (30.8%). Just under one third (32.5%) were within the healthy weight range and 1.5% were underweight.
  • The proportion of adults who were overweight or obese has increased from 61.1% in 2007-08 and 2011-12 to 65.9% in 2017-18.
  • In 2017-18, a greater proportion of men were overweight or obese than women (73.9% and 58.0% respectively). While the proportions have remained constant since 2014-15 (71.9% and 55.2% respectively), there has been an increase since 2011-12 (68.3% and 53.7% respectively).
  • The proportion of adults who were overweight or obese in general increased with age. Less than half of those aged 18-24 years (43.8%) were overweight or obese. By age 35-44 years, this had increased to 68.8% and by the age of 65-74 years, the proportion had increased to just over three quarters (76.9%).

Children (2-17 years)
  • One quarter (25.7%) of children were overweight or obese, with the rates similar for boys and girls and remaining similar since 2014-15.
  • More children were overweight (17.6%) than obese (7.9%).

Alcohol consumption[1]

Adults (18 years and over)

Lifetime risk guideline
  • Almost one in six (15.7%) adults consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guideline in 2017-18, which was similar to 2014-15 (17.6%).
  • Men were almost three times as likely to exceed the lifetime guideline as women. Almost a quarter (23.3%) of men and around one in eleven women (8.4%) exceeded the lifetime risk guideline in 2017-18. These rates have remained relatively similar since 2014-15 (26.7% and 9.1% respectively).
  • Young adults were less likely to exceed the lifetime risk guideline than older adults; 6.1% aged 18-24 years compared with 19.7% aged 45-54 years.
  • Since 2014-15, declines were observed in adults aged 18-24 years and 35-44 years exceeding the lifetime risk guideline, from 13.6% to 6.1% and 21.7% to 14.5% respectively.
  • Adults residing in Inner Regional or Outer Regional and Remote were more likely to exceed the lifetime risk guideline (22.1% and 22.6% respectively) compared with those living in Major Cities (13.9%).

Single occasion risk guideline
  • Around two in five (39.1%) adults consumed more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the past year, exceeding the single occasion risk guideline, which was similar to 2014-15 (42.5%).
  • Men were more likely to exceed the single occasion risk guideline than women (51.1% and 27.6% respectively).
  • Young adults (aged 18-24 years) (58.3%) were more likely to exceed the single risk occasion risk guideline than any other age group.
  • Unlike other health risk factors, the proportion of adults who exceeded the single occasion risk guideline were highest among those living in areas of least disadvantage (fifth quintile) at 43.9% compared with those living in areas of most advantage (first quintile) at 35.3%.

New South Wales had a lower rate of adults exceeding the single occasion risk guideline compared with Australia (39.1% compared with 42.1%).

High blood pressure

Adults (18 years and over)
  • In 2017-18, just over one in five (21.8%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading, which has remained relatively stable since 2011-12 (21.5%).

Fruit and vegetable consumption[2]

Adults (18 years and over)
  • More than half of adults (52.4%) met the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit (2 or more serves), whilst one in fourteen (7.0%) met the guidelines for daily serves of vegetables.
  • Only one in twenty (5.2%) adults met both guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.

Children (2-17 years)
  • More than seven in ten (71.6%) children met the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, whilst one in fifteen (6.6%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables.
  • One in fifteen (6.6%) met the guidelines for recommended daily serves of both fruit and vegetables.

Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

Adults (18 years and over)
  • Around one in two (48.1%) adults consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week.
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 36.6% of adults consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 16.9% of adults consuming diet drinks.
  • Almost one in ten (9.5%) adults consume sugar sweetened drinks daily, with less consuming diet drinks daily (4.9%).
  • Men are more likely to consume both sugar sweetened drinks and diet drinks than women. Overall, 44.4% of men consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 29.0% of women. Men are also more likely to be daily consumers (12.4% compared with 6.7%).
  • Consumption of sugar sweetened drinks peaked among young adults (18-24 years) with 59.6% consuming at least once per week. Rates of consumption generally declined as age increased and by 65 years and over, 19.7% of people are weekly consumers.
  • Adults living in the most disadvantaged areas (first quintile) are five times (15.8%) more likely to drink sugar sweetened drinks daily compared with 3.1% of adults living in the least disadvantaged areas (fifth quintile).
  • Adults living in Major Cities are less likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks daily at 8.4% compared with 12.7% living in Inner Regional Australia and 16.2% living in Outer Regional and Remote areas.

Children (2-17 years)
  • Around two in five children (45.8%) usually consume either sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once per week.
  • Sugar sweetened drinks are more popular than diet drinks with 41.7% of children consuming sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with 7.0% for diet drinks.
  • One in fourteen children (7.7%) consume sugar sweetened drinks daily and almost one third (30.8%) consume them 1-3 days per week. By comparison, 1.3% of children consume diet drinks daily and 5.9% consume them 1-3 days per week.
  • Boys are more likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks than girls, consistent with the trend for adults. Almost half (49.1%) of boys consume sugar sweetened drinks at least once per week compared with just over a third (33.6%) of girls.

Physical activity[3]
  • One in ten (10.8%) 15-17 year olds engaged in 60 minutes of exercise (excluding workplace physical activity) every day and around one in five (19.8%) did strength or toning activities on three or more days in the last week.
  • More than half (57.3%) of 18-64 year olds undertook 150 minutes or more of exercise in the last week, excluding workplace physical activity and this increased to 66.6% when workplace physical activity was included.
  • One quarter (26.2%) of 18-64 year olds undertook strength or toning activities on two or more days in the last week.
  • Nearly one in two (45.3%) adults aged 18-64 years described their day at work as mostly sitting, while 21.3% described their day as mostly walking, 19.6% as mostly standing and 13.4% as mostly heavy labour or physically demanding work.
  • Just over a quarter (25.8%) of older adults (65 years and over) engaged in 30 minutes of exercise on 5 or more days in the last week.

For further information

For further information about these and related statistics see publication National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001), or contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

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>.