Aussie men could take better care of themselves

While Australia continues to enjoy improvements in health and life expectancy, statistics released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show many Australian men could be doing more to protect and improve their health.

The report, The health of Australia’s males, examines attitudes to health issues, rates of injury, illness and mortality and use of health services among Australian men.

The report will be launched today at the Tuggeranong Men's Shed in Canberra by Warren Snowdon, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of ANZAC. The launch marks the start of International Men’s Health week in Australia.

‘By international standards, Australia is doing very well in terms of male life expectancy,’ said AIHW Director David Kalisch.

Australian male life expectancy is 79 years, ranked fourth among OECD countries. The OECD average is 76.3 years.

‘This can at least in part be attributed to the positive lifestyle choices made by many Australian men: about two-thirds of males participate in sport or physical activity, and rates of smoking continue to decline,’ Mr Kalisch said.

‘Survival rates for some kinds of cancer—such as testicular and prostate—are also improving, which may be thanks to better screening, earlier detection and improved treatment.’

Despite this good news, there are many areas where men can improve their own health.

‘Just 5% of adult males consume enough fruit and vegetables and about two-thirds of adult males and one-quarter of boys (aged 5-17 years) are overweight or obese,’ Mr Kalisch said.

Almost half of the Australian male population have had a mental health condition, about one-quarter have a disability and close to one-third have a chronic health condition.

Half of all Australian men report being the victim of violence at least once in their lives.

Men are infrequent users of some health services, but are over-represented in others.

‘Australian men make fewer GP visits than women, only 40% of men discuss healthy lifestyle issues with health professionals and 16% of men do not use any Medicare services at all—however, a greater proportion of emergency department presentations are by men.’

The Australian Government launched the National Male Health Policy in May 2010, to provide a framework for improving the health of men in Australia.

‘Despite the gains that have been achieved, many Australian men are still at risk, with 4% rating their health as poor,’ Mr Kalisch said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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