Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Staying healthy and ageing well


Table of contents


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This chapter outlines the health status of South Australian adults. It firstly summarises life expectancy and health status, as life expectancy at birth is one of the most widely used and internationally recognised indicators of population health. However, healthy life expectancy and South Australians’ own perception of their health are also important issues and are thus included.

Chapter 3 then considers a range of factors that influence health status:

Protective factors are factors with a positive influence on health, such as diet and exercise. A diet high in vegetables and fruit has health benefits, particularly in relation to the prevention of certain chronic diseases and several major forms of cancer. Conversely, inadequate nutrition has been linked with developmental and behavioural problems, cancer and other conditions. Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, developing diabetes and developing high blood pressure. Physical activity is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight and can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Human function factors includes information about South Australians with a disability, as they are more likely than those without a disability to report poorer overall health status, inadequate access to health care, and smoking. People with disabilities are also at greater risk of secondary conditions such as injuries, becoming overweight, pain, depression and fatigue.

Risk factors contribute to the disease burden in South Australia. Alcohol is the second largest cause of preventable death and hospitalisation in Australia and can result in a number of chronic diseases.  Obesity can cause a range of health problems which significantly add to Australia’s health costs. High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease and are therefore included. Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of premature death and disease in Australia, associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases. Levels of psychological distress is another crucial population health measure included for review.

Finally, cancer is one of the major contributors to the South Australia's disease burden and some basic incidence/prevalence information has been included in this section.



Chapter 3 table of contents

3-0. Summary

3-1. Life expectancy

3-2. Health status

Protective factors of Staying Healthy and Ageing Well

3-3. Nutrition – Fruit intake

3-4. Nutrition – Vegetable intake

3-5. Physical activity (exercise)

Human function factors of Staying Healthy and Ageing Well

3-6. Disability

Risk factors of Staying Healthy and Ageing Well

3-7. Multiple risk factors

3-8. Alcohol risk

3-9. Overweight and Obesity

3-10. High blood pressure

3-11. High cholesterol

3-12. Smoking

3-13. Psychological distress (anxiety and depression)

3-14. Cancer

3-15. Illicit drug use