Osteoporosis affects one in two women, and one in three men, over the
age of 60 (1). By 2010, one in three hospital beds will be occupied
by elderly women with fractures (1). In Australia, about 50% of women
and 30% of men over 60 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis in their
remaining lifetime (2). It has been estimated that increased longevity
will cause the prevalence of hip fractures to jump from 1.7 million
worldwide in 1990 to 6.3 million by 2050 (2).
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) claims a life in Australia every 10 minutes
(3). Prevalence of CVD increased from 17 % (2.2 million in 1989-90)
to 21% (2.8 million in 1995) (4). CVD costs community $3.7 billion a
year (5). 8 out of 10 adult Australians are either physically inactive,
overweight, have high blood pressure or smoke cigarettes (5).1 in 10
Australian adults has 3 or more of these major risk factors (5).1 in
2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop coronary heart disease in their
life (5). Men aged 45 have a 1 in 4 chance of having a stroke before
the age of 85 and women have a 1 in 5 chance (5). Risk of developing
CVD a concern due to the prevalence of modifiable risk factors: cigarette
smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, obesity
and limited physical activity (4).
Every year thousands of Australians die as a result of type II diabetes.
Many thousands more suffer heart and kidney problems, stroke or lose
a limb or their vision because of diabetes (6). Diabetes affects more
than 430,000 Australians (6). Estimates suggest a further 350,000 are
affected but are unaware of their condition (6). 250 new cases of type
II diabetes are diagnosed each day (7).
More than two-thirds of cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes;
not smoking, a good diet and exercise (8). Diet accounts for about 35%
of all cancers (3). Nearly 80,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed
each year (9). Equates to an average risk of one in three men, and one
in four women, being directly affected by cancer (4).
One in three men in western countries will develop some form of prostate
disease after the age of 50 (10). Men in Australia and New Zealand have
a low rate of isoflavone consumption with a typical daily intake of
about 2-5 mg, compared to an intake of about 40mg daily in eastern countries
which consume a traditional legume-based diet (10).
Overweight and Obesity
56% of Australians are overweight or obese (11). 64% of adult men and
47% of adult women are classified as overweight or obese in Australia
(12). The average man has gained about 3.5 kg in the past decade, gaining
one extra gram per day (3). At every age, men are more likely than women
to be overweight or obese (3). In 1997, Australians ate almost 1.2 billion
meals and snacks from fast food outlets (3). 69% of adults are sedentary
or have low exercise levels (4). Labour-saving devices such as e-mail,
remote control, automatic pool cleaners, escalators, microwave ovens
and voice-activated mobile phones are making us fat (13). Cleaning your
own pool is equivalent to a brisk 5 km walk (14). Australians need to
walk an extra 19 km per day to match the activity level of their ancestors
In 1995, 2.6 million, or 14.6% of the total Australian population, had
arthritis (16). By 2001, this figure will have risen to 2.97 million
or 15.4% (16). With our rapidly ageing population, by 2021, the number
of people in Australia with some type of arthritis will be 4.2 million
or 18.6% (16).
27 % Australian women, and 15 % of men, take a dietary supplement (4).
The most common supplement taken by adults is vitamin C (10% of women
and 7% of men) (4). Other supplements frequently taken are vitamin B
(8% of women and 4% of men), multivitamins (6% of women and 4% of men),
calcium (7% of women) and vitamin E (5% of women) (4). · More than 60%
of Australians use vitamin or mineral supplements, plant or herbal products,
naturopathic or homeopathic preparations, or nutritional products, at
least once a year (17).
Refer to the Australian Bureau Of Statistics website at www.statistics.gov.au
for more detailed information. Other useful websites Australian Institute
of Health and Welfare www.aihw.gov.au
1. AFA - Osteoporosis Australia (data from Garvan Institute)
2. Australian Doctor, ‘Bone: Lost and Found’, 10th November 2000. Pp
3. Supplement Plus Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia, Vol.
1, No. 3; Spring 99.
4. ABS statistics: data from the most up-to-date sources available,
including data from the 1995 National Health Survey.
5. ‘Heart, Stroke and Vascular Diseases: Australian Facts 1999’, the
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australia Heart Foundation.
6. Super Food Ideas magazine, June/July 2000, p. 22.
7. Australasian Doctor, 20 October 2000 p41 ‘ Exercise the best Strategy’.
The Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity- 9th Annual Scientific
8. The Daily Telegraph 03/07/00, p. 85 ‘Survival Instincts’.
9. The National Cancer Statistics Clearing House of AIHW.
10. Dietary Isoflavones for Men’s Healthline Australia: 1300 789 089
or NZ: 0800 668 6436.
11. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 1999. Heart, stroke
and vascular diseases, Australian facts. AIHW Cat. No. CVD 7, Canberra:
AIHW and the Heart Foundation of Australia (Cardiovascular Disease Series
12. ‘The Fat of the Land’. Australian Doctor, 14 April 2000, p. 53.
13. James WPT. A public health approach to the problem of obesity. International
Journal of Obesity. (1995) 19. Suppl. 3 S37-S45.
14. Australian Doctor 10 March 2000.
15. Cordain L, Gotshall RW, Eaton S Boyd; ‘Physical Activity, Energy
Expenditure and Fitness: An Evolutionary Perspective’. Intl. J. Sports
Med., Vol. 19, pp. 328-335, 1998.
16. ‘The Arthritis Management Guide’; The Arthritis Foundation of Australia.
17. ‘Supernatural?’ Living Well magazine, October 1999, pp. 14-18.
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