Web update: Health risk factors in 2014–15 - Web update - Overview

Web update: Health risk factors in 2014–15

Overview

Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder. Examples of health risk factors include risky alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. High-quality information on health risk factors is important in providing an evidence base to inform health policy, program and service delivery.

New information on lifetime risky alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and insufficient physical activity are presented in the Fact Sheets below. These fact sheets display variation in health risk factors across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

In 2014–15:

  • Around 1 in 6 Australian adults (17%) reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption
  • Over half of Australian adults (56%) reported insufficient physical activity participation
  • Almost 1 in 3 Australian adults (34%) had high blood pressure.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption Fact Sheet (PDF, 184 KB)

Insufficient physical activity Fact Sheet (PDF, 186.1 KB)

Uncontrolled high blood pressure Fact Sheet (PDF, 209.2 KB)

This update is accompanied by an interactive web tool that shows how your local area compares with the national average and allows comparison between each area.

Quick facts

Based on self-reported survey data from 2014–15:

  • Around 1 in 6 (17.4%) Australian adults reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption.
  • Overall, a higher proportion of adults in regional PHN areas (20.4%) reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption, compared with adults in metropolitan PHN areas (15.9%).

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who reported consuming more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average—thereby increasing their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol consumption. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of lifetime risky alcohol consumption in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is lifetime risky alcohol consumption?

Alcohol consumption refers to the consumption of drinks containing ethanol, commonly referred to as alcohol. The quantity, frequency or regularity with which alcohol is drunk provides a measure of the level of alcohol consumption.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption refers to Australian adults consuming more than 2 standard drinks per day on average. That is, alcohol consumption exceeding the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (see Box 1 for more information).

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 17.4% of Australian adults reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption.

Box 1 Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

The NHMRC’s guidelines for alcohol consumption provide advice on reducing the risks to health from drinking alcohol.

Healthy men and women are advised to consume:

  • no more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day, to reduce their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury
  • no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion, to reduce their risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

What is a Primary Health Network?

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are organisations that connect health services over local geographic areas. There are 31 PHNs in Australia. Due to the availability of robust and reliable data at PHN area-level, results for 28 PHN areas are reported in this fact sheet.

Variation across metropolitan and regional PHN areas

In 2014–15, the proportion of adults who had lifetime risky alcohol consumption across all regional PHN areas was 20.4%. For all metropolitan PHN areas, this proportion was 15.9%.

The five PHN areas with the highest proportion of adults reporting lifetime risky alcohol consumption were all in regional areas (Figure 1).

Conversely, four of the five PHN areas with the lowest proportion of adults with lifetime risky alcohol consumption were in metropolitan locations.

Figure 1: Proportion of adults who reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption, by metropolitan and regional Primary Health Network area, 2014–15

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
PHN group PHN area State Proportion 95% Confidence Interval
Regional Country WA WA 24.4 (18.3–30.6)
Regional Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast QLD 23.7 (18.2–29.1)
Regional Hunter New England and Central Coast NSW 23.7 (19.0–28.3)
Regional North Coast NSW 22.5 (15.0–29.9)
Regional Northern Queensland QLD 21.5 (15.6–27.4)
Metropolitan Perth North WA 20.7 (17.3–24.0)
Regional Murray VIC/NSW 20.5 (12.5–28.4)
Regional Western NSW NSW 20.3 (11.4–29.3)
Metropolitan Gold Coast QLD 20.0 (13.9–26.0)
Regional Northern Territory†† NT 19.3 (15.5–23.0)
Regional Tasmania TAS 18.6 (16.5–20.6)
Metropolitan Perth South WA 18.5 (14.8–22.2)
Metropolitan Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 18.4 (12.3–24.4)
Metropolitan Northern Sydney NSW 18.3 (13.2–23.5)
Regional Country SA SA 17.3 (13.2–21.4)
Metropolitan Brisbane North QLD 16.8 (12.9–20.7)
Regional Western Victoria VIC 16.6 (12.2–20.9)
Metropolitan Brisbane South QLD 16.5 (12.6–20.3)
Regional South Eastern NSW NSW 16.4 (7.9–25.0)
Metropolitan Adelaide SA 16.3 (14.0–18.5)
Metropolitan Australian Capital Territory ACT 15.7 (13.6–17.9)
Metropolitan Central and Eastern Sydney NSW 15.6 (11.8–19.5)
Metropolitan North Western Melbourne VIC 15.3 (12.0–18.5)
Metropolitan Eastern Melbourne VIC 14.5 (11.6–17.5)
Metropolitan Western Sydney NSW 14.3 (9.6–18.9)
Metropolitan South Eastern Melbourne VIC 13.0 (10.5–15.5)
Regional Darling Downs and West Moreton QLD 10.2 (7.4–13.0)
Metropolitan South Western Sydney NSW 7.4 (3.0–11.9)
Regional All regional PHN areas 20.4 (19.0–21.9)
Metropolitan All metropolitan PHN areas 15.9 (14.8–17.0)
National Australia 17.4 (16.6–18.3)
Source:
ABS, National Health Survey 2014–15: Customised report, 2017
95% confidence interval
Data for South Western Sydney and South Eastern NSW should be interpreted with caution, as the estimates have a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
††
Data for the Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution, as 25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and are therefore excluded from the survey.

Quick facts

Based on self-reported survey data from 2014–15:

  • Over half of Australian adults (56.4%) did not meet the recommended level of physical activity.
  • Overall, a higher proportion of adults in regional PHN areas (62.4%) did not meet the recommended level of physical activity, compared with adults in metropolitan PHN areas (53.3%).

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (18 years and over) who reported insufficient levels of physical activity. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of insufficient physical activity in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is insufficient physical activity?

Physical activity is the expenditure of energy generated by moving muscles in the body. Most physical activity occurs during leisure time, or through active transport and incidental activity such as housework or gardening.

Insufficient physical activity refers to physical activity levels that do not meet the Department of Health’s Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (see Box 1 for more information).

This includes adults (18–64 years) who did not complete more than 150 minutes of physical activity, on at least 5 sessions over a week, and older Australians (65+ years) who did not complete 30 minutes of activity on at least 5 days.

Based on self-reported survey data from 2014–15, 56.4% of Australian adults had insufficient levels of physical activity.

Box 1 Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

The Department of Health’s guidelines aim to reduce health risks from low physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Part of these guidelines specify healthy men and women (18–64 years) are to accumulate, on at least 5 sessions each week:

  • 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity, or
  • 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or
  • an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.

Healthy older Australians (65 years and older) are recommended to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

What is a Primary Health Network?

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are organisations that connect health services over local geographic areas. There are 31 PHNs in Australia. Due to the availability of robust and reliable data at PHN area-level, results for 28 PHN areas are reported in this fact sheet.

Variation across metropolitan and regional PHN areas

In 2014–15, the proportion of adults with insufficient physical activity levels across all regional PHN areas was 62.4%, compared with 53.3% for all metropolitan PHN areas.

Four of the five PHN areas with the highest proportion of adults with insufficient physical activity levels were in regional locations (Figure 1).

The five PHN areas with the lowest proportion of adults with insufficient physical activity levels—that is, they were most active—were all in metropolitan, capital city locations.

Figure 1: Proportion of adults who reported insufficient levels of physical activity, by metropolitan and regional Primary Health Network area, 2014–15

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
PHN group PHN area name State Proportion 95% Confidence Interval
Regional Darling Downs and West Moreton QLD 73.1 (64.5–81.7)
Regional Country SA SA 69.7 (64.4–75.1)
Regional Western Victoria VIC 66.9 (60.7–73.1)
Metropolitan Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 66.1 (60.7–71.5)
Regional South Eastern NSW NSW 64.9 (55.4–74.3)
Regional Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast QLD 64.5 (53.9–75.1)
Regional Hunter New England and Central Coast NSW 63.2 (58.2–68.3)
Metropolitan Brisbane South QLD 61.7 (58.9–64.4)
Metropolitan Western Sydney NSW 61.1 (54.2–68.0)
Regional Northern Queensland QLD 60.9 (52.1–69.6)
Regional Tasmania TAS 60.2 (57.2–63.2)
Regional Western NSW NSW 59.9 (37.4–82.5)
Regional Country WA WA 58.5 (49.8–67.1)
Metropolitan South Western Sydney NSW 58.3 (54.0–62.7)
Regional Murray VIC/NSW 56.5 (47.3–65.7)
Metropolitan Adelaide SA 55.4 (52.4–58.4)
Regional North Coast NSW 55.4 (43.9–66.9)
Metropolitan Gold Coast QLD 55.2 (47.5–62.8)
Metropolitan South Eastern Melbourne VIC 54.2 (50.3–58.1)
Metropolitan Eastern Melbourne VIC 53.2 (49.5–56.9)
Metropolitan Perth South WA 53.2 (49.1–57.3)
Metropolitan North Western Melbourne VIC 52.8 (48.5–57.1)
Regional Northern Territory†† NT 52.7 (48.4–57.0)
Metropolitan Perth North WA 51.3 (47.5–55.1)
Metropolitan Brisbane North QLD 50.1 (45.2–55.1)
Metropolitan Australian Capital Territory ACT 48.9 (45.9–51.9)
Metropolitan Northern Sydney NSW 48.7 (43.3–54.1)
Metropolitan Central and Eastern Sydney NSW 41.2 (34.8–47.6)
Regional All regional PHN areas 62.4 (60.2–64.7)
Metropolitan All metropolitan PHN areas 53.3 (52.2–54.4)
National Australia 56.4 (55.4–57.5)
Source:
ABS, National Health Survey 2014–15: Customised report, 2017
95% confidence interval
Data for Western NSW should be interpreted with caution, as the estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
††
Data for the Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution, as 25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and are therefore excluded from the survey.

Quick facts

Based on survey data from 2014–15:

  • 1 in 3 (33.7%) Australian adults had high blood pressure–almost 1 in 4 (23.0%) had uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • 4 in 10 (39.3%) adults from regional PHN areas had high blood pressure, compared with 3 in 10 (30.9%) adults in metropolitan PHN areas.

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who had high blood pressure and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of high blood pressure in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined in this fact sheet by the World Health Organization definition (see Box 1 for more information).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure as defined here refers to all people with measured high blood pressure, regardless of whether they are taking medication. It is presented for context in this fact sheet.

High blood pressure is an important and treatable cause of disease and death. It is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

The modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure include poor diet (particularly high salt intake), obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and insufficient physical activity. Lifestyle changes and medication can help to control high blood pressure.

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 33.7% of Australian adults had high blood pressure. There were 23.0% of Australian adults who had uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Box 1 Defining high blood pressure

The World Health Organization defines high blood pressure as including any of the following:

  • systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg
  • diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90 mmHg
  • receiving medication for high blood pressure.

Variation across metropolitan and regional PHN areas

In 2014–15, the proportion of adults with high blood pressure across all regional PHN areas was 39.3%, compared with 30.9% for all metropolitan PHN areas.

The five PHN areas with the highest proportion of adults with high blood pressure were all in regional locations (Figure 1).

Conversely, the five PHN areas with the lowest proportion of adults with high blood pressure were all in metropolitan locations, with the exception of the Northern Territory. This was also seen in the proportion of adults with uncontrolled high blood pressure (Figure 2).

Rates in individual PHNs reflect the age profile of the population in the community, as age is a strong risk factor for high blood pressure. For example, the proportion of adults aged 45 and over in Western Sydney and Central and Eastern Sydney was around 45% compared to South Eastern NSW and Tasmania where the proportion of adults aged 45 and over was closer to 60%. Please see the Health risk factors in 2014–15 Excel download for more information.

Figure 1: Proportion of adults with high blood pressure and uncontrolled high blood pressure, by metropolitan and regional Primary Health Network area, 2014–15

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
PHN group PHN area State Measure Percentage of adults
Regional South Eastern NSW NSW 44.6 (37.3–51.9)
Regional Tasmania TAS 42.5 (40.2–44.9)
Regional Country WA WA 41.6 (35.9–47.3)
Regional Country SA SA 40.5 (35.6–45.5)
Regional North Coast NSW 40.2 (33.4–47.0)
Regional Hunter New England and Central Coast NSW 39.8 (34.0–45.7)
Regional Darling Downs and West Moreton QLD 39.5 (30.8–48.2)
Regional Western Victoria VIC 39.2 (35.3–43.1)
Regional Northern Queensland QLD 38.2 (31.1–45.3)
Metropolitan Eastern Melbourne VIC 36.0 (32.6–39.5)
Regional Murray VIC/NSW 36.0 (30.9–41.1)
Regional Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast QLD 34.8 (30.3–39.3)
Metropolitan South Western Sydney NSW 34.5 (29.7–39.4)
Metropolitan Adelaide SA 33.9 (31.6–36.1)
Metropolitan Australian Capital Territory ACT 33.7 (31.2–36.1)
Metropolitan Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 32.8 (23.6–42.0)
Metropolitan Gold Coast QLD 32.7 (27.6–37.8)
Regional Western NSW NSW 32.3 (25.1–39.5)
Metropolitan Brisbane North QLD 31.9 (27.1–36.7)
Metropolitan South Eastern Melbourne VIC 31.4 (26.1–36.7)
Metropolitan North Western Melbourne VIC 30.3 (27.4–33.1)
Metropolitan Northern Sydney NSW 30.2 (24.4–36.0)
Metropolitan Perth South WA 30.1 (26.9–33.3)
Metropolitan Perth North WA 29.7 (28.4–31.0)
Metropolitan Brisbane South QLD 29.2 (26.3–32.2)
Regional Northern Territory NT 25.9 (22.8–28.9)
Metropolitan Central and Eastern Sydney NSW 25.1 (21.8–28.4)
Metropolitan Western Sydney NSW 23.5 (18.2–28.8)
Regional All regional PHN areas 39.3 (37.8–40.7)
Metropolitan All metropolitan PHN areas 30.9 (29.9–31.8)
National Australia 33.7 (32.8–34.7)
Source:
ABS, National Health Survey 2014–15: Customised report, 2017
95% confidence interval
Data for the Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution, as 25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and are therefore excluded from the survey.

Figure 2: Proportion of adults with uncontrolled high blood pressure, by metropolitan and regional Primary Health Network area, 2014–15

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
PHN group PHN area State Measure Percentage of adults
Regional Western Victoria VIC 28.6 (23.6–33.7)
Regional Tasmania TAS 28.4 (26.0–30.9)
Regional North Coast NSW 27.2 (19.4–35.0)
Regional Country SA SA 27.1 (21.8–32.3)
Regional South Eastern NSW NSW 27.1 (18.9–35.3)
Regional Country WA WA 26.0 (19.8–32.2)
Metropolitan Eastern Melbourne VIC 25.2 (21.6–28.7)
Regional Hunter New England and Central Coast NSW 25.0 (20.3–29.8)
Metropolitan Brisbane North QLD 24.9 (20.2–29.6)
Regional Darling Downs and West Moreton QLD 24.5 (16.3–32.6)
Metropolitan Nepean Blue Mountains NSW 24.3 (18.5–30.1)
Regional Western NSW NSW 24.1 (17.4–30.7)
Regional Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast QLD 23.4 (18.8–28.1)
Regional Northern Queensland QLD 23.4 (18.7–28.1)
Metropolitan Australian Capital Territory ACT 23.2 (21.1–25.4)
Metropolitan Adelaide SA 23.1 (20.7–25.5)
Metropolitan North Western Melbourne VIC 22.8 (19.7–25.8)
Metropolitan Gold Coast QLD 22.6 (17.5–27.7)
Metropolitan South Western Sydney NSW 22.6 (20.4–24.8)
Metropolitan Northern Sydney NSW 21.2 (16.2–26.3)
Metropolitan Perth South WA 21.2 (17.9–24.5)
Metropolitan South Eastern Melbourne VIC 21.1 (19.9–22.4)
Metropolitan Brisbane South QLD 20.8 (17.9–23.8)
Regional Northern Territory NT 19.7 (16.5–22.9)
Regional Murray VIC/NSW 19.5 (13.7–25.3)
Metropolitan Central and Eastern Sydney NSW 19.2 (15.8–22.5)
Metropolitan Perth North WA 18.5 (16.4–20.6)
Metropolitan Western Sydney NSW 14.9 (9.9–19.9)
Regional All regional PHN areas 25.8 (24.1–27.4)
Metropolitan All metropolitan PHN areas 21.6 (20.7–22.6)
National Australia 23.0 (22.1–24.0)
Source:
ABS, National Health Survey 2014–15: Customised report, 2017
95% confidence interval
Data for the Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution, as 25% of the population live in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and are therefore excluded from the survey.