4147.4.55.001 - Culture and Recreation News, Jan 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/01/2003   
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In 2001, the ABS conducted a National Health Survey (NHS) to measure the health status of the population, the use of health services, actions people had recently taken for their health, and health risk factors.

The risk factors covered in the survey were smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, being overweight and some dietary habits. Compared with results from a previous survey in 1989-90, the 2001 survey found that Australian adults (people aged 18 years and over) were improving against the risk factors of smoking and exercise, but the proportion of adults who were overweight continued to increase, while high risk alcohol use was unchanged.

In 2001, 70% of adults had exercised for recreation, sport or fitness during the previous two weeks. Overall proportions of males and females who exercised were similar but females were more likely to walk for exercise than males (58% and 50% respectively), while males were more likely than females to undertake moderate exercise (40% compared with 33%) or vigorous exercise (20% compared with 11%).

Comparing results from the 2001 NHS with those from previous surveys indicates that relatively more people were exercising in 2001 than in 1995 and 1989-90, although differences are small. For example, the proportion of people exercising at low levels increased from 33% in 1989-90 to 38% in 2001 while those recording a sedentary exercise level fell from 37% in 1989-90 to 32% in 2001. Percentages exercising at moderate to high levels showed little change (at around 30%).

The proportion of males classified as overweight or obese (based on their body mass index (BMI)) rose from 46% in 1989-90 to 58% in 2001, a 26% increase in prevalence. A large increase was also recorded for females-from 32% to 42%-giving an increase in prevalence of 31%. For both males and females, increases were recorded in both the overweight and obese groups, and were recorded across all age groups.

Main features of National Health Survey, Australia, 2001 are available free of charge on this site. A range of additional material on the survey, intended to assist people in their use and interpretation of the data, can be accessed from the Health Theme Page on the ABS web site.