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19 August 2014

Older Western Australians not active enough for good health

Only 40 per cent of Western Australians aged over 65 are sufficiently active for good health, according to the new Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2013, Overview and Trends report.

The report shows people over the age of 65 faced significantly greater risk of chronic health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

WA Health Consultant Geriatrician Dr Nicholas Waldron said being more active could help older people reduce their risk of chronic disease.

"From this report we can see that physical activity levels drop off after the age of 65, which is concerning when we know how important being active can be for overall health and wellbeing," Dr Waldron said.

"Maintaining physical activity is also very important in reducing the risk of falls for older people," Dr Waldron said.

People in the over 65 age group, however, were more likely than younger age groups to eat two serves of fruit daily and were less likely to eat meals from fast food outlets.

Overall, the number of people eating the recommended number of serves of vegetables was the lowest recorded since the health and wellbeing surveys began in 2002, with fewer than one in 10 people aged 19 and above reported consuming five or more serves of vegetables daily.

More than 30 per cent of Western Australians were drinking at levels likely to increase their risk of long-term alcohol related harm.

Other findings from the 2013 survey include;

  • More than one in five (22.9%) adults reported having an injury in the past 12 months that required treatment by a health care professional and almost one-third (28.8%) of these injuries were due to falls.
  • There has been a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity in adults from 21% in 2002 to 27.8% in 2013
  • The prevalence of smoking among WA adults is 13%, significantly lower than the 2008 prevalence of 16.6%
  • Almost nine out of 10 (87.0%) adults aged 16 and over reported that their health was the same or better than it had been the previous year

The full report is available on the WA Health publications website.

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