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Active Australians are more advantaged Australians: Further evidence in Australia’s Health Tracker by Area

Australia’s Health Tracker by Area shows that 66% of adults report no or low physical activity (within the week of the National Health Survey). Physical inactivity costs Australia about $600 million each year. Walking, riding, sport and leisure are vital for physical and mental health and yet almost two-thirds of the nation is missing out.

Affluent city councils like Woolahra in Sydney (46.8% report no or low physical activity), Cottesloe in Perth (47.6%) and Stonnington in Melbourne (52.5%) have the most active residents across the country. Wealthier suburbs tend to also report the lowest levels of obesity, current smokers and premature mortality from chronic disease.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Area confirms that poorer communities and regional/rural communities have poorer health. More than three-quarters of adults in the mid-West of Tasmania, Western New South Wales and Western Victoria are reporting no/low physical activity.

“Our research on over 400,000 players from community sports clubs shows that children and young people from low-income areas are much less likely to play sport. For young women, there is a significant drop off across all income groups at age 15” ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ROCHELLE EIME (Victoria University and Federation University)

Australia’s Health Tracker by Area is developed by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University with the Public Health Information and Development Unit at Torrens University. The digital platform includes a series of maps which provide localised data on chronic diseases and their risk factors at the town, local council, primary health network, state and national level.

The April data update includes: new data on no/low physical activity, childhood overweight and obesity and premature death by cancer type; and updated data on adult overweight and obesity, current smoking, suicide rates and early deaths by chronic disease.

"Parks, walking tracks, community sports and active work places, schools and towns, are what we need to help get more Australians reaping the benefits physical activity. Increasing your activity decreases your risks of heart attack, mental illness and cancer. More than 75% of people living in Western Victorian and Western New South Wales regions, are reporting no or low physical activity. These patterns in regional Australia are concerning” ROSEMARY CALDER (Director of AHPC)

Public health and chronic disease experts want at least a 10% reduction in physical inactivity in Australia by the year 2025. The Tracker reports will be regularly issued to keep track of progress towards this target for a healthier Australia.

“We are not just tracking diseases and their risk factors, we have solutions too. We want a national physical activity strategy that delivers programs and policies that work. This will support the 34% of Aussies who are active to stay active and the 66% who are not, to find a sport or activity they enjoy. Investing in children’s programs – like walking and cycling to school – will enable 3.6 million school-aged children to get free physical activity every day” DR. LYN ROBERTS (Principal Adviser, VicHealth)

Website: Australia’s Health Tracker by Area

Available for interview

To comment on the data generally:

  • Rosemary Calder AM: Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University.
  • Professor Maximilian de Courten: Director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Victoria University.

To comment on physical activity and sport:

  • Associate Professor Rochelle Eime: The Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University and Federation University.
  • Dr Lyn Roberts AO: Principal Adviser, VicHealth.
  • Rob Bradley: President and CEO, Confederation of Australian Sport.
  • Marina Medved: Leader of My Time women’s cycling group, mother and physical activity enthusiast. Marina can talk about the benefits of physical activity for her family and community.

Other health, research and not for profit leaders available on request.

Media contact:

Frances Atkinson, Journalist
Marketing & Communications Department
03 9919 4061, 0435 960 793 or frances.atkinson@vu.edu.au.

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