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Aussies weigh more, smoke less

world Updated: Dec 12, 2009 12:22 IST
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The number of smokers in Australia has dropped over the past 20 years, while the rate of obesity has almost tripled, a new report has revealed.

Australia is among world leaders in reduced tobacco consumption, cutting the percentage of adults who smoke daily from 35 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2007.

The smoking rate in Australia is now one of the lowest in OECD countries, behind only Sweden and the United States. In contrast, the report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which compares key health data across its 30 member countries, ranked Australia fourth worst in terms of adult obesity rates, following the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

"Half or more of the adult population is now defined as being either overweight or obese in no less than 13 OECD countries, including Australia," said Sally Bullock of AIHW's Population Health Unit.

In terms of health spending per person, Australia ranked above the OECD average, with USD 3,137 spent per person compared with an OECD average of USD 2,964.

However, the report shows Australia has fewer doctors per person than in most other OECD countries, with 2.8 practising doctors per 1,000 people in 2006, compared to the OECD average of 3.1.