The Health Gap Between Australia’s Richest And Poorest Is Widening

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The gap in quality of health between the most advantaged and most disadvantaged Australians persists, according to national figures released by University of Adelaide researchers.

Levels of smoking, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and psychological distress are many times greater among the most disadvantaged.

Based on 2011-2013 data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the University’s Public Health Information Development Unit will today provide the latest update about variations in health across Australia.

The figures detail rates of disease and health risks, and highlight differences across a range of socially advantaged and disadvantaged groups.

“We are very clearly seeing a widening in the health gap, not only between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, but across the population at every step in the social spectrum. This should be of concern to everyone,” says John Glover, the Director of the University’s Public Health Information Development Unit.

Almost 25% of people in the most disadvantaged group are still smoking, compared with 12% in the most advantaged group.

While smoking rates have fallen across the whole population, they’ve fallen at a much slower rate among the most disadvantaged.

Rates of obesity are 34% for people in the most disadvantaged group, compared with 21% in the most advantaged group.

The most disadvantaged people also have the worst rates of asthma (12%, compared with 9%), arthritis (17%, compared with 12%), diabetes mellitus (9%, compared with 3%) and cardiovascular disease (19%, compared with 15%).

Another key indicator is psychological distress, with 17% of the most disadvantaged group suffering from high or very high psychological distress compared with just 7% among the most advantaged group.

“All of these figures paint a very unhealthy, unhappy and distressing picture for those who are doing it tough in our society,” he says.

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