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Get moving to a healthier, happier life

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Queenslanders need to get moving and replace poor food choices with healthier ones. That is the message from Queensland Health’s latest The Health of Queenslanders Report.

In launching the biennial report today, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said while there had been some improvements since the last report two years ago, there were still many challenges to address.

“More than half of Queensland’s population - two-thirds of adults and a quarter of children - are overweight or obese. We have the sad mantle of being the ‘heaviest’ state in Australia.”

“The Health of Queenslanders Report 2014 has found about one quarter of all deaths were directly or indirectly associated with dietary risks and were therefore preventable.

“Overwhelmingly the evidence points to Queenslanders eating too much of the wrong food and moving too little. And Queenslanders have a much distorted view of their weight, particularly as big, bigger and huge is now our norm.

“We are witnessing an increase in physical activity but there is still too much sedentary behaviour. Only 60 per cent of Queensland adults and 41 per cent of children are achieving the recommended physical activity levels.”

Dr Young said while obesity was a key concern, progress had been made in many areas such as immunisation and efforts to stop smoking.

“Smoking rates have continued to fall with the rate of decline similar for both men and women. Young men aged 18-29 have led the way in stopping smoking and given us hope that fewer young people will take up the habit.”

“It is estimated however that there are still around 500,000 adult smokers in Queensland and that’s 500,000 too many.

“Immunisation is definitely a Queensland success story. At 92 per cent we are higher than the national average and I believe we are on track to meet our goal of 95 per cent,” Dr Young said.

Queenslanders’ alcohol consumption was also scrutinised in the report, which showed a small but welcome change.

“Whilst Queenslanders still drink more than the national average, it is again young men in the 18-29 year age bracket who have made a difference by achieving a decline in ‘risky’ drinking levels, which is encouraging. This may be a small step but it’s one with big potential,” she said.

Dr Young said overall, Queensland was a healthy state with life expectancy rates showing Queenslanders were outliving much of the world’s population.

“When compared to 187 countries, Queensland would be ranked among the top 10 for life expectancy but there are still opportunities to make gains in our health status,” she said.

“We need to address the increasing burden of hospitalisations by preventing disease and maximising opportunities for treatment and management in the primary healthcare setting.

“We can prevent early deaths by focussing on the risks that cause them and we need to improve the daily eating patterns of all Queenslanders – fewer snacks, less junk food, sugary drinks and alcohol, and more fruit and vegetables,” she said.

Background information:

  • The Health of Queenslanders 2014 also indicated:
    • Death rates for the major conditions continue to decline, with greater decline in the premature death rates
    • Cancer survival rates are steadily improving, but not for all cancer types
    • Socioeconomic health inequalities continue
    • Hospitalisation rates are increasing.
  • This year, for the first time, the report provides an analysis of the population health status of individual Hospital and Health Services. The data shows there are opportunities to reduce the hospital burden and improve health outcomes if preventable conditions, particularly obesity, are addressed.
Last updated: 19 November 2014