The Courier-Mail




HALF of all Australian­s are fat, battling diabetes or another disease – prompting an urgent government plea to get off the couch and start exercising.

Alarming new statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also reveal one in five Australian­s has at least two chronic diseases brought on by obesity, smoking and inactive lifestyles – including heart or lung disease, arthritis and back problems.

Health Minister Sussan Ley urged all Australian­s to “put down the remote” and “go for a walk”.

“Too many Australian­s – young and old – are living sedentary lives and, frankly, it’s killing us,” Ms Ley said, echoing the advice in the famous 1970s “Life. Be In It” campaign (pictured).

Ms Ley said while an ageing population was contributi­ng to the poor statistics, people’s poor lifestyle choices were also to blame.

“I want to see more Australian­s up off the couch, putting down the remote and getting active, even if it’s a half-hour walk during your lunch break,” she said.

“These worrying new statistics highlight for all of us the importance of leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

“It is concerning these statistics show not only do half of all Australian­s have a chronic disease but onein-five have at least two of the most common eight chronic diseases.”

Her comments came as the Government was almost certain to strike a deal with the Greens to pass its $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, a Budget measure thought dead after Prime Minister Tony Abbott dumped the planned $7 GP-co-payment.

The AIWH report says chronic diseases affect a person’s quality of life and also the public purse.

“Chronic diseases are the leading causes of fatal burden of disease – the amount of life lost due to people dying early – in most age and sex groups and are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia, accounting for 90 per cent of all deaths in 2011,” it says.

“Changes to our lifestyle in the last hundred years have meant chronic diseases are increasing­ly common and now cause most of the burden of ill health.

“In 2012-13, cardiovasc­ular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease were associated with around 1.8 million hospitalis­ations, which is 20 per cent of all hospitalis­ations in Australia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann yesterday hinted that a deal for the Medical Research Future Fund, which would help find cures for diseases, was not far away.

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