New survey reveals the extent of chronic health problems

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Four in five Australians are living with a long-term health condition with almost half reporting at least one chronic condition, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Health Conditions Prevalence report is based on the National Health Survey 2020-21 with data collected online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABS director of health statistics, Robert Long, said this first release of the National Health Survey 2020-21 provides insights into health conditions and health risks during the pandemic.

“Mental and behavioural conditions (20.1 per cent), back problems (15.7 per cent) and arthritis (12.5 per cent) were the most commonly reported chronic conditions in 2020-21,” he said.

One in five people is living with two or more chronic conditions. Women aged 18 years and over were more likely than men to have at least one chronic condition (56.5 per cent compared to 49.5 per cent).

Over five per cent of people are living with diabetes, 3.6 per cent osteoporosis, 10 per cent asthma and 1.6 per cent cancer.

The survey has also provided insights on e-cigarette use.

“New data on e-cigarette use showed that more than one in five (21.7 per cent) people aged between 18 to 24 years have tried a vaping device," said Mr Long.

"Most people in this age group had never smoked tobacco (83.3 per cent).”

The survey revealed that more than half (56.6 per cent) of Australians over the age of 15 rated their health as excellent or very good. Yet just over one in four (27.2 per cent) met the physical activity guidelines in 2020-21, while four in ten (41.8 per cent) people aged 65 years and over met the guidelines.