Over three quarters of Australians have a long-term health condition

Media Release

78.6 per cent of all Australians had a long-term health condition in 2020-21, with almost half (46.6 per cent) reporting at least one selected chronic condition, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of Health Statistics, Robert Long, said the first release of the National Health Survey 2020-21 offered insights into health conditions and health risks in 2020-21 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mental and behavioural conditions (20.1 per cent), back problems (15.7 per cent) and arthritis (12.5 per cent) were the most commonly reported chronic conditions in 2020-21,” Mr Long said.

For the first time, the survey also provided insights on e-cigarette use.

“New data on e-cigarette use showed that more than one in five (21.7 per cent) people aged between 18 to 24 years have tried a vaping device. Most people in this age group had never smoked tobacco (83.3 per cent).”

The National Health Survey 2020-21 indicated one in four (25.8 per cent) adults aged 18 years and over exceeded the Australian alcohol consumption guidelines, with men more likely than women to have exceeded the limits in the guidelines (33.6 per cent compared to 18.5 per cent). Over a quarter (26.8 per cent) of men were consuming more than 10 standard drinks a week.

The survey also revealed that more than half (56.6 per cent) of Australians over the age of 15 rated their health as excellent or very good. Just over one in four (27.2 per cent) met the physical activity guidelines in 2020-21, while four in ten (41.8 per cent) people aged 65 years and over met the guidelines.

More information can be found in the topics available for free download from Health conditions and risks on the ABS website.

Media notes

  • Due to changes in the collection of the survey due to COVID-19, data cannot be compared to previous National Health Survey releases.
  • The first release of the survey will include national health statistics for health conditions prevalence, asthma, diabetes, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking (including vaping).
  • Alcohol consumption is measured against the revised National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2020 guideline. The ABS has interpreted exceeding the guideline as consuming more than 10 standard drinks in the week prior to interview, or consuming 5 or more standard drinks on any day in the last year at least monthly (12 occasions per year), or exceeding both components.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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