The gap in the quality of health between the disadvantaged in Australia and those more affluent is continuing to widen, new research has found.
While the number of Australians overweight and obese is the highest on record, the rates of obesity, smoking, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and psychological distress are worst amongst the disadvantaged.
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The poor can also expect to die younger.
The Public Health Information Development Unit at Torrens University in Adelaide has drawn the conclusions after analysing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It says its findings also highlight differences between those living in urban centres and those in regional and remote parts of Australia.
File photo of a senior counting coins. Credit: Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61
Releasing the results on Tuesday, unit director John Glover said it was hoped the information would provide more impetus for health policymakers to address the inequalities across society.
“These public health figures disturbingly reveal, yet again, the poorer health outcomes for people in our community who are most disadvantaged,” Professor Glover said.
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“Although the rates of chronic disease and health risks are estimates, they are based on the best available data and indicate the magnitude of the differences in health status that exist in Australia.”
The study looked at health outcomes by location, comparing areas of high socioeconomic advantage with those considered less well off.
It found obesity rates in the most advantaged areas of about 24.6 per cent, compared to 38.5 per cent in the most disadvantaged areas.
The rates of smoking were also higher in disadvantaged areas, 24.3 per cent to 8.5 per cent. The instance of asthma was 13.4 per cent to 10 per cent and diabetes 7.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
The rates of cardiovascular disease were similarly higher among the disadvantaged at 5.5 per cent compared to four per cent, while the median age at death was 62 years across lower social-economic regions compared to 89 years in the most affluent areas.
In regional Australia, those figures were even worse with South Australia’s indigenous APY lands reporting a median age at death of just 48 years.