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Chronic disease risk factors rife among Aussies
MOST Australians have at least one preventable risk factor in their lifestyle that could lead to chronic disease, according to a new report.
Drawing on data from the 2007–08 National Health survey of more than 20,000 people, researchers found 17% of men have five or more such risk factors as do 11% of women.
The researchers looked at contributors to diseases such as asthma, type 2 diabetes and depression such as poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, obesity, leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking.
Poor diet was one of the most common risk factors, with as many as 90% of Australians failing to eat sufficient vegetables, while 50% do not consume enough fruit.
However, not all risk factors are equal, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Risk factors contributing to chronic disease.
An index looking at the burden of disease found that smoking was responsible for 7.8% of the disease burden in Australia, compared to a low intake of fruit and vegetables which was 2.1%.
A person who increases their vegetable consumption may have less of a health benefit as someone who gives up smoking, the authors said.
The more risk factors an individual has, the more likely they are to have a chronic disease. Men who have five or more risk factors are twice as likely to experience depression than men with two or less risk factors.
Women with five or more risk factors are three times as likely to experience a stroke, than women with less than two risk factors. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
The risk factors were also found to go hand-in-hand with one another. Those who consume too much alcohol are more likely to be smokers, and smokers are more likely to not get enough exercise.