National Survey Identifies Top Health Concerns
4 December 2013 at 2:49 pm
Internet addiction, weight management, food safety and pollution are four health threats worrying Aussies this year, according to the 2013 Healthy Living Index Survey results by life insurer AIA Australia.
AIA Australia’s General Manager Life Insurance, Damien Mu, said the research highlighted new modern day threats to healthy living, which were fuelling growing concerns today.
“Issues such as technology are both a health threat and opportunity. While those surveyed reported that spending excessive time online is affecting their health, 62 per cent also said that they rely on the internet for information and advice on healthy foods,” he said.
“Some 43 per cent use the internet or mobile phones to keep track of their physical activity and to stay motivated to exercise.”
Out of the health conditions, cancer is the biggest concern in Australia (49 per cent) followed by heart disease and being overweight/obese which are of equal concern (29 per cent). Mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s (27 per cent) and depression (21 per cent) are also concerns.
The survey found women are more concerned about having cancer than men (54 per cent and 45 per cent respectively). Two-thirds of women worry about breast cancer, whilst half the men worry about prostate cancer.
The report says diabetes appears to be of least concern (10 per cent), which is in contrast to results that show diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day.
The survey showed that Australians see healthy behaviours such as sufficient sleep, eating healthy and regular exercise as the most important drivers of healthy living, but also recognise the importance of psychological aspects such as work-life balance and a happy frame of mind.
It also found that people over the age of 45 years old placed more importance on family relationships and medical check-ups compared to their younger counterparts.
Commenting on the results, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, Melanie McGrice, said: “Yes, obesity rates are growing and chronic diseases, such as heart disease are leading causes of death. The good news is that there are things we can do to address many of these health worries.
“Simple lifestyle changes like getting off the couch, balancing screen-time with active-time and being mindful about what we eat are habits which Aussies can cultivate in 2014 to address the health concerns they have in 2013.”
The 2013 AIA Australia Healthy Living Index Survey is an in-depth survey of more than 600 Australians conducted by global consumer research company, TNS, into perceptions, actions and satisfaction levels around healthy living.
Key results from the 2013 Healthy Living Index Survey include:
The Internet/Social Networking
More than half of Australians agree spending time online prevents them from getting enough exercise (52 per cent), with 45 per cent saying it prevents them from getting enough sleep and 59 per cent claiming it affects their posture.
The most frequently mentioned ways of dealing with stress are watching TV/movies (59 per cent), playing computer or mobile games (33 per cent) and spending time online (31 per cent).
More than half of those surveyed (56 per cent) find it hard to break the habit of spending too much time in front of electronic devices and 45 per cent agree that social networking or spending time online is becoming an addiction.
Managing weight issues
Weight management is a huge challenge for Australians; with three in four people (73 per cent) surveyed hoping to lose pounds.
Childhood obesity also continues to weigh heavily on the public’s mind, with nine in ten adults worrying about increasing obesity in younger people. Worries about weight ranked more highly for women with 80 per cent of women wanting to lose weight compared with 66 per cent of men.
Food Safety and Integrity
Nearly two thirds of Australians (62 per cent) expressed concern that "food contains harmful ingredients" while half are concerned that "ingredients are not what it says on the label" and that "the food they buy may have gone bad".
Nine in 10 Australians interviewed agreed that pollution is a health hazard, and were concerned that environmental issues are contributing to an increase in cancer rates and respiratory illnesses. Concerns center on land pollution (48 per cent), air pollution (48 per cent) and water pollution (47 per cent).
Improvements since 2011
The 2013 Healthy Living Index showed some improvements since 2011:
Adults remain sleep deprived, though the sleep gap has reduced from 1.7 hours in 2011 to 1.4 hours;
The percentage of people who exercise regularly has increased from 60 per cent in 2011 to 67 per cent now;
The average hours exercised has increased from 3.1 hours a week to 3.4 hours. However, a third of adults do not exercise regularly.