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4367.0 - Aspects of Disability and Health in Australia, 2007-2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/03/2011  First Issue
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SELECTED HEALTH RISK FACTORS


SELECTED HEALTH RISK FACTORS

Smoking status

According to SANE Australia, "Like all smokers, people with Profound/severe disability use tobacco because it can be a way of dealing with stress and boredom, as well as because nicotine is physically addictive".6

A New York State Department of Health study found that smoking and disability were associated with lower health related quality of life and that people with disability smoke at higher rates than those without disability. The study also found that smoking appeared to be more highly associated with mental distress than physical distress.7

For the purposes of the NHS 2007-08, the topic of smoking primarily described smoking status at the time of interview; i.e. current smokers (daily, weekly and other), ex-smokers, and those who had never smoked.

In 2007-08, the proportion of people with Profound/severe disability who were current smokers, peaked at 48.8% in the 25-34yr age group, compared to 24.9% of people without a disability (Graph 20). From that age, the proportion of current smokers in the population without a disability declined markedly to 5.7% of persons aged 75 and over.

Higher rates of smoking amongst people with Profound/severe disability is a contributing factor to their chronic disease profile, particularly circulatory disorders such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and lung disease such as asthma.

20 Current smoker by, Disability status
20 Current smoker, by Disability status



Alcohol consumption

The NHS 2007-08 grouped respondents into categories of relative risk level for alcohol consumption based on the 2001 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) risk levels for harm in the long term. For more information, see National Health Survey: User's Guide, 2007-08 (cat. no.4363.0.55.001).

People with profound or severe disabilities were not significantly more or less likely to participate in medium to risky/high risk alcohol consumption, with the exception of those aged 25-34yrs (Graph 21).

In all ages other than age 45-54, people with Other disability are partaking of alcohol at a risky level substantially more often than those people with Profound/severe disability and people who have no disability.

21 Medium to high risk alcohol consumption, by disability status
21 Medium to high risk alcohol consumption, by Disability status



Body mass index

While Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful tool to assess and monitor changes in body mass at the population level, when interpreting the NHS 2007-08 data, users should bear in mind that it may be an inappropriate measure of the body mass of certain populations and certain individuals. For example:
  • those whose high body mass is due to muscle rather than fat;
  • those with osteoporosis who have lower than usual BMI;
  • people of non-European background, whose risk levels are not accurately reflected in the BMI cut-off points used; or
  • people who cannot be measured because of a physical restriction.

For more information, see National Health Survey: User's Guide, 2007-08 (cat. no.4363.0.55.001).

Graph 22 shows that people who are profoundly or severely disabled are more likely to be overweight or obese than those without disabilities across all age groups. There is a decrease in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among people with Profound/severe disability after the age of 64.

22 Body mass index (measured) overweight and obese, by Disability status
22 Body mass index (measured) overweight and obese, by Disability status



Physical activity

In the NHS 2007-08, physical activity guidelines for Australian adults included at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Levels of activity were gauged by respondents being asked a series of questions about the exercise they undertook in the last week, expressed in the three categories of walking, moderate exercise and vigorous exercise.

Graph 23 indicates that of those aged 18-54 years, there was no statistically significant difference in meeting the physical activity guidelines between people with Profound/severe disability (32.7%) and people without a disability (36.1%).

The NHS 2007-08 also found that for people with Profound/severe disability, there was a marked difference in meeting the physical activity guidelines between younger people aged 18-54yrs (32.7%) and older people aged 55+ yrs (10.5%).

23 Proportion of people who met recommended exercise guidelines, by Disability status(a)
23 Proportion of people who met recommended exercise guidelines, by Disability status(a)



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