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The Negative Health Impacts of a 21st Century Lifestyle

As Australians, we live in an age and land of plenty. Our life expectancy has increased, whilst birth rates and the rate of infectious diseases has lowered. Agricultural advances see our food and water on our table without much personal input and technological advances have us surrounded by labour-saving appliances and gadgets.

These advances of the 21st Century see an innumerable number of benefits for our society, but have had negative impacts on our personal health.

Luckily, regular comprehensive assessments of our personal health can help identify potential health risks and put us on a path to reduce or prevent these negative impacts affecting our quality of life. 

A survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2013 found that most deaths in Australia are now caused by chronic disease rather than acute illnesses, which were the cause of most deaths a hundred years ago[1].

Of these chronic diseases, many of them, such as cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, are impacted negatively by our 21st Century lifestyle.

Eliminating or reducing these elements of our lifestyle, such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, insufficient exercise and obesity can prevent chronic disease. As our life expectancy is naturally longer in the 21st Century than it has ever been before, we want to ensure our years lived are done so at optimum health. A Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) is a measure of each year of healthy living lost due to disease.   Eliminating these unhealthy elements from our lifestyle will ensure a reduction in DALY’s and result in a greater quality of life for a longer period of time.



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Smoking remains one of the main dangers to the health of Australians. Rates of tobacco smoking are steadily declining in Australia with the smoking rate among adults found to be 13.3% in a 2013 study carried out by Quitline[2]. The associated health outcomes of smoking are known, with those who have ever smoked reported as six times more likely to have emphysema than those who had never smoked and heart, stroke and vascular diseases being more prevalent in adults who had ever smoked[3]. With smoking rates constantly falling, we are also seeing a decrease in related health issues, making this a lifestyle element that is a clear-cut change for a healthier future.

Another lifestyle factor that can easily be modified to decrease negative health impacts is our diet and alcohol intake. Low to moderate alcohol consumption can offer some protective health effects, giving us cause to celebrate with a glass of red wine. High alcohol consumption, however, leads to disorders such as epilepsy, cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver and various cancers. Survey results showed that rates of drinking at harmful levels, in an average week, were highest for men 25–34 years (17%), and for women aged 45–54 years (14%)[4].

Rates of obesity in Australia are also rising, with nearly two-thirds of Australian adults (63%), registering as overweight or obese in 2011-12, compared with 61.2% in 2007–08 and 56.3% in 1995[5].

Regular assessment of weight, blood pressure and cardiac abnormalities, coupled with consultations with Health Coaches or Dieticians can be all the help you need to get your health and your weight back on the right track. Ensuring this healthier lifestyle will also help to minimise our DALYS and ensure a longer, stronger life.

Our society is increasingly inactive, with sedentary lifestyles becoming the norm in Australia. Many forms of work are situated at a desk. Coupled with leisure activities such as watching television or using a computer and transportation between work and home, it is estimated that an average of 10 hours per day is inactive. Only 38% of Australians aged 18 years and over meet the recommended physical activity guidelines of at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, with each session lasting 10 minutes or more[6]. This inactive lifestyle predisposes us to a variety of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high levels of cholesterol and an overall sluggish system. With an increased boost from the federal government to encourage adult women to participate in team sports and ‘Make their Move’ Australia is turning its attention to the necessity of being active. The benefits of regular physical activity go well beyond those of disease prevention. It can help manage stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, strengthen self-esteem, enhance mood and boost mental alertness.

Although the 21st Century lifestyle can be harmful, the advances that have come with it make us hopeful for a healthier future. The negative elements outlined above can be easily reduced or removed from our life to result in better health. Life First is well equipped to test for these chronic diseases, with our focus being on prioritising your health, by being proactive and thinking ahead when it comes to health, wellbeing and quality of life. With tests to detect cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and our comprehensive ‘Head to Toe’ examination, we will help to identify health risks and provide you with a thorough medical assessment of your current health status. This assessment will include recommendations on how you can properly enjoy a 21st Century lifestyle while still putting your Life First.

 

[1] How Healthy Are We? Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2014.

[2] Quit Resource Centre, Smoking Rates

[3] 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012: Health Risk Factors. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012.

[4] Ibid.

[5] How Healthy Are We? Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2014.

[6] 1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012: Health Risk Factors. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012.



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