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Fewer Australians dying from chronic disease: report

Australians are living longer as the number of people dying from chronic disease falls, a new report shows.

Premature death due to chronic disease has dropped by nearly 20 per cent in the last decade, a new report from the AIHW has found.

The report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare presents the first ever picture of chronic disease in Australia.

Ilona Brockway of the AIHW's Population Health Unit said the data showed the rate of premature death due to chronic illness such cancer, heart disease and diabetes fell by 17 per cent between 1997 and 2007.

As fewer people aged under 75 are dying from chronic disease, Australia’s life expectancy is climbing.

Males born between 2006 and 2008 are expected to live to 79.2 years - an increase of three-and-a-half years from a decade ago. Females are projected to live an extra 2.3 years to 83.7, the report said.

"The indicators were developed as a first step to consistent reporting, which will, over time, be able to provide information about progress with preventing and managing chronic disease in Australia," said Brockway.

The report card, ‘Key indicators of progress for chronic disease and associated determinants’, captured data on a set of 42 indicators related to chronic disease.
In terms of risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, the report paints a more complex picture. While daily smoking is down, the rate of obesity is up.

“On the positive side, daily smoking continues to decrease, with less than 18 per cent of Australian adults now smoking daily compared with over 24 per cent in 1991,” Brockway said.

“On the other hand, almost a quarter of Australian children are currently overweight or obese. For adults the figure is around 60 per cent and the trend has been increasing.”
Because excess weight is associated with many chronic conditions, the increase shown in obesity is of concern, she said.

The data from the chronic disease indicators will be used to monitor what is working in chronic disease prevention.


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