Australia is failing to prevent our biggest health killers – cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes – a damning new assessment of how the nation is tracking on chronic diseases has found.
Australia’s Health Tracker, released today by Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University, shows increased rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dangerously high levels of salt and sugar consumption in Australian adults.
The results for young Australians are not much better. Almost 30 per cent are overweight or obese and a staggering 91.5 percent are not doing enough physical activity.
Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University, Rosemary Calder, said health leaders nationally hold grave concerns about the lack of prevention of chronic disease.
“We simply cannot accept that we are now one of the world’s fattest nations, with very high rates of heart disease and diabetes,” Ms Calder said.
“Nor should we accept such high levels of risk among Australia’s children, knowing that this will lead to chronic yet preventable illness in their futures.”
More than 50 health organisations worked together on Australia’s Heath Tracker – the first assessment of its kind – in an effort to warn governments and industries that immediate and significant action is needed to fight diseases crippling the health system.
“Despite one in two Australians living with a chronic disease and one in five people battling two or more chronic diseases, less than two per cent of government health spending is dedicated to prevention,” Ms Calder said.
“Australians deserve a healthier future. We can and must do better.”
There is some good news. Smoking rates and risky alcohol intake has fallen and there have been fewer deaths from cardio-vascular disease, stroke and common cancers recorded.
“These falls are masked by frustration because it shows we can change our alarming trajectory but government, industry and community need to take the lead,” Ms Calder said.
“We hope that Australia’s Health Tracker will be a tool for action and accountability to protect the most important asset in our country – our health.”
More than 80 organisations including the National Stroke Foundation, the National Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Australia and the Public Health Association of Australia will meet at a national forum in Melbourne today to discuss strategies to combat preventable chronic diseases and drive national agenda for change.
Australia’s Health Tracker report cards are available on request.