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Report identifies 25% of adults struggle

By January 22, 2024 January 23rd, 2024 No Comments

More than a quarter of adults identify as having behavioural conditions, according to new data released in December by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The result includes mood and anxiety-related disorders, organic mental disorders, plus the harmful use or dependence on alcohol and/or drugs.

The 26.1% of people who self-reported these conditions was up from the two previous National Health Surveys – 20.1% in 2017-18 and 17.5% in 2014-15 – while estimates from previous years are not comparable due to a change in collection methodology. 

The survey also revealed that a high or very high level of psychological distress was being experienced by 14.3% of people, based on a score of 22 or more on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale.

These figures were also on the increase, from 13.5% in 2017-18 and 11.7% in 2014-15.

ABS director of health statistics Robert Long said the first release of the National Health Survey 2022 data offered insights into how the health of Australians had changed.

More than one in four adults (26.8 per cent) exceeded the Australian Adult Alcohol Guideline, reporting that they drank more than 10 standard drinks a week and/or five or more drinks on any one day at least monthly. Young adults aged 18–24 years were more likely than any other age group to exceed this amount, with 36.1% exceeding the guideline in 2022.

When the survey examined healthy eating habits, it found that 44.1% of adults were consuming the recommended daily intake of fruit, but only 6.5% reached the quota for vegetables.

“On average, we were doing 69 minutes of physical activity every day and nearly half of us spent most of our work day sitting,” Mr Long said.

The survey revealed eight in 10 Australians (81.4%) had at least one long-term health condition, and half (49.9%) had at least one selected chronic condition.

However, the proportion of adult current daily smokers had more than halved in the past 20 years, down from 22.4% in 2001 to 10.6% in 2022.

While one in seven adults had used e-cigarettes and vaping devices at least once in their life, 58.3% of adults had never smoked, showing an improvement during the past decade from 51.1% in 2011–12.

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