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Overworked Australians don’t have time to look after their health: study

A population health expert has called for limiting working hours so people can look after their health following the release of research that revealed 20 per cent of Australians don't have time to exercise and eat healthy food.

The longitudinal study of free time as a determinant of health, from the Australian National University, followed about 5000 people aged 25–54 over three years. It considered those with time commitments including work, commutes and caring duties of 70 hours a week to be time poor.

Study lead Dr Lyndall Strazdins said the study's results rang alarm bells for health problems including obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

"Everyone knows it's harder for people who are poor to be healthy by buying fresh food and a gym membership, but being healthy also takes time,” Strazdins said.

She said whether it was a lack time or money, 5 per cent of people who were otherwise healthy moved into high-risk inactivity and eating habits within a year.

"One in 10 people had a combination of time and income scarcity, which more than doubled their risk of inactivity,” she added.

Strazdins pointed to the culture of overworking in Australia as an important factor in this. “We need to limit working hours so people can spend more time doing things that are good for their health,” she said.

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