Aussies have their heads in the sand when it comes to health

Richard Laycock 13 September 2016

Girl-eating-a-strawberry

While 85% of the population say they're in good health, 50% have a chronic disease and 63% are overweight or obese.

Today marks the 15th instalment of the biennial Australia's Health report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), and in true Australian form the "she'll be right, mate" mentality extends to our personal health.

The study found that 56% of Australians would say that their health was either "excellent" or "very good", with a further 29% rating their health as "good".

However, according to the director and CEO of AIHW, Barry Sandison, our perception of ourselves as being in good health seems to be at odds with reality.

If Australia had a population of just 100 people, "19 of us would have a disability, 20, a mental health disorder in the last 12 months, and 50, at least one chronic disease," Sandison said.

Australians engage in many unhealthy activities on a regular basis, with 13% of us smoking everyday, 18% drinking at dangerous levels and 95% not getting their daily serve of fruit and veg.

According to the survey, 55% of Australians are getting their recommended daily amount of exercise but 63% of the population are either overweight or obese.

Another alarming statistic is that for the first time in the history of the report, cancer is ranked as the number one cause of death for Australians (44,100 people). It narrowly beat out cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death (43,600 people), which has long been the biggest killer of Australians.

The report wasn't all doom and gloom. Despite some of our questionable lifestyle choices, Australians are living longer than ever, with a boy born between 2012 and 2014 expected to live to the age of 80.3 and a girl expected to live to 84.4 years of age.

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