Top ‘prize’ Aussie men don’t want

Australian men have the highest rate of cancer in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), according to an analysis.

A new tool released this week by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW)  compares the nation’s statistics with those from 23 other OECD countries.

The data showed the Australian population generally experienced the second highest rate of cancer – behind Denmark – but that Australian men had the highest rate. Australian women ranked seventh.

However, the AIHW says Australia’s high rate might be due “in part to high-quality and virtually complete cancer incidence data”, The Guardian reports.

“Across OECD countries, the quality and completeness of cancer registry data may vary, in turn affecting the cancer incidence rates provided to the OECD and presented here,” AIHW said.

Australia was in ninth spot on obesity, with 63 per cent of the population aged 15 and over considered either overweight or obese. The OECD average was 58 per cent. Australian men were third on the overweight or obese list, behind the US and Chile.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released yesterday found that in 2017-18, two-thirds (67 per cent) of Australian adults were overweight or obese – an increase from 63.4 per cent in 2014-15.

In other ABS findings, just under half (47.3 per cent) of Australians had one or more chronic conditions in 2017-18, compared with two-fifths (42.2 per cent) in 2007-08. The most common were:

  • mental and behavioural conditions – 4.8 million people (20.1 per cent)
  • back problems – 4 million (16.4 per cent)
  • arthritis – 3.6 million (15.0 per cent)
  • asthma – 2.7 million (11.2 per cent)
  • diabetes – 1.2 million (4.9 per cent)
  • heart, stroke and vascular disease – 1.2 million (4.8 per cent)
  • osteoporosis – 924,000 (3.8 per cent)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – 598,800 (2.5 per cent)
  • cancer – 432,400 (1.8 per cent)
  • kidney disease – 237,800 (1 per cent)


Australians were the sixth least likely to smoke within the OECD, but consumed more alcohol than the average.

Since 1995, the proportion of adults who are daily smokers has decreased from 23.8 per cent to 13.8 per cent in 2017-18. The proportion of adults who have never smoked has increased from 49.4 per cent in 2007-08 to 52.6 per cent in 2014-15, and 55.7 per cent in 2017-18.

Men were more likely than women to exceed alcohol consumption guidelines, but the proportion has declined since 2014-15, while the rate for women remains largely unchanged.

The AIHW reports that life expectancy at birth in Australia was 82.5 years – above the OECD average of 80.6 – which put Australia in sixth spot. Japan had the highest life expectancy.

Australians were much less likely to be injured in a road accident, especially compared with New Zealand, where injuries from car crashes were most common across the OECD.

Have you noticed an increasing number of expanding waistlines? Are you thoughtful about your diet and exercise?

Related articles:
Five easy lifestyle changes
Is weight gain inevitable?
Remarkable things about your body

Written by Janelle Ward

Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.

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