How healthy is Queensland?


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How healthy is Queensland?

p>World leading and improving life expectancy, strong declines in smoking rates, a reduction in death rates for many diseases and increases in child immunisation are the positive messages from recent health data for many Queenslanders.

But despite these positive indicators, a significant proportion of Queensland's population are confronted with bulging waistlines, physical inactivity, sedentary lifestyles and obesity. By 2017 about 63% of Queensland adults will be overweight or obese, which will lead to a reduction in life expectancy; the median life expectancy reduces by 2 to 4 years for obese people and 8 to 10 years for the severely obesei.

Health snapshot

Queensland is a fast growing state. Over 10 years, the population increased by 0.8 million people, reaching 4.47 million people in 2011ii. During this period, life expectancy has improved; death rates have fallen and continue to fall.

In 2010, life expectancy for males was 79.4 years and 83.9 years for females, which is an improvement of 2.5 years and 1.6 years, respectively, since 2001iii. This is better than the life expectancy in most OECD countriesiv. At the same time, there has been a decline in death rates due to smoking-related conditions and cardiovascular diseasev.

However, chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes remain a leading cause of death in Queensland, accounting for 91% of deaths in 2010vi. Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in Australiavii and cardiovascular disease alone accounts for 32% of all deathsviii. And although the number of deaths caused by cancer is falling, Queensland's ageing population is contributing to a greater number of cancer cases being diagnosed.

Bulging waistlines and sedentary lifestyles are causing a growth in chronic diseases, such as diabetes, in Queensland.

Risky behaviour

Over one third (34.6%) of death and illness in Queensland is caused by modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, physical inactivity, high body mass, and alcohol consumptionix.The Health of Queenslanders 2012 report reveals that bulging waistlines are a growing concern of the statei. In the past 16 years (1996-2012) obesity rates for adults have doubledi, making Queensland the state with the second largest overweight population in Australia, behind Western Australiax.

Much of the state's weight ailments are caused by high rates of physical inactivityi. Following closely behind NSW, Queensland has the second highest proportion of people leading sedentary lifestylesxi. In 2007, high body mass overtook tobacco as the leading cause of premature death and disability in Queenslandi.

And while smoking rates are declining - by 4% (10,000 people) per yearxii - there are still many improvements to be made. Compared to other states of Australia, smoking rates in Queensland are still relatively high, with the third highest proportion of smokers (17%) behind the Northern Territory (24%) and Tasmania (22%)xi. The latest Australian Health Survey reveals diseases of the respiratory system, such as lung cancer, are the most prevalent form of disease in Queenslandxi.

Excessive alcohol consumption is also placing a burden on the health of Queenslanders. In 2012, 21% of the population consumed alcohol at levels associated to lifetime riskxiii; 15.3% were drinking at levels that place them at risk of injury on a weekly basis - more than four drinks on any occasion - and 35.5%, at least once a yearxii.

Rising rates of hospitalisation are putting a strain on Queensland's health system.

Health system challenges

In addition to the risks brought on by unhealthy lifestyle choices, Queensland's health system faces many challenges, including the impact of an ageing and expanding population, rising rates of hospitalisation, and promoting healthier lifestyle habits in older generationsxiv.

While Queensland is currently experiencing a decline in cancer death rates, this trend may be reversed if healthier lifestyle habits are not adopted in earlier stages of lifexiii. Between 1982 and 2008, the number of new cancer cases in Queensland increased by 3.8% per yearxv. This rise is mainly attributed to the state's ageing population, which is expected to triple between 2010 and 2050x.

Rising rates of hospitalisation are also a cause for concern: they are expected to double in 17 years' timevii. Between the 2001-02 and 2010-11 financial years, the rate of hospitalisation increased from 35,050 to 38,589 per hundred thousand population. Yet many hospitalisations can be prevented if causes of disease, such as poor health choices, are addressed earlier.


iChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.vi

iiAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3235.0~2011~Main+Features~Queensland?OpenDocument#PARALINK1

iiiChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.4

ivOECD, 2012, OECD Health Data 2012, http://www.oecd.org/health/health-systems/oecdhealthdata2012-frequentlyrequesteddata.htm

vChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.iii

viChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.15

viiChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.viii

viiiChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.v

ixChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.16

xPopulation Epidemiology Unit, 2011, Overweight and Obesity 2011, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/epidemiology/documents/overweight-2011-fs.pdf, p.1

xiAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Australian Health Survey: First Results 2011-2012, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012011-12?OpenDocument

xiiChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.vii

xiiiChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.12

xivChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.iv

xvChief of Health Officer Queensland, 2012, The Health Of Queenslanders 2012, Queensland Government, http://www.health.qld.gov.au/cho_report/2012/documents/2012-cho-report-all.pdf, p.2