Western Australians reminded to have a healthy summer

As we move into summer and the festive season, it is important Western Australians maintain a healthy lifestyle.

With longer summer days, there is more opportunity for children to go outside and play. The latest Health and Wellbeing of Children in Western Australia report shows the proportion of children, up to the age of 15 years, meeting the Australian guidelines for electronic media use during leisure time was 62.6 per cent.

In 2003, when the Western Australian Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System began collecting data on electronic media use, the prevalence of children meeting the Australian guidelines for electronic media use during leisure time was 57.9 per cent.

However, the proportion of children completing sufficient levels of physical activity in 2018 (39.7%) was significantly lower compared with 2007 (55.9%) and 2008 (52.8%).

It is important to consider sun protection when spending more time outdoors during summer and almost all skin cancers are preventable if people protect themselves from the sun. In 2018, 61.5% of parents/carers of children aged 0 to 15 checked they were adequately protected before going out into the sunlight.

Childhood sun exposure is particularly important in determining melanoma risk. The average number of times children aged 0 to 4 years were sunburnt in the preceding 12 months was 0.5 times. This increased significantly to 2.3 times for children aged 10 to 15 years.

Western Australia’s Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System is a continuous data collection that monitors the health status of the general population and forms the basis of two annual health and wellbeing reports – one on children and the other on adults.

The data is collected via computer-assisted telephone interviews which are conducted year round.

The Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2018 shows the prevalence of skin cancer was significantly higher than other cancer; 13.2 per cent compared with 6.6 per cent.

The festive season is a time of Christmas parties and other celebrations. It is important to remember excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of some health conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and liver and pancreatic disease. It also increases the risk of violence and anti-social behaviour, accidents and mental illness.

In 2018, the percentage of people 16 years and over who reported they didn’t drink was 43.5 per cent. Males were significantly more likely than females to report drinking at levels considered high risk for long-term harm1 (34.8 per cent compared with 12.1 per cent).

Overall, males were significantly more likely than females to report drinking at levels considered high risk for short-term harm2 than women – 14.1 per cent vs 2.9 per cent.

Other findings from the 2018 reports include:

Children’s report

  • Most children aged 0 to 15 years (86.8 per cent) were reported by their parents/carers to be in very good or excellent health.
  • It is estimated that just over half (57.0%) of children aged 2 to 15 years usually consumed full fat or whole milk.
  • The prevalence of children ever treated for an emotional or mental health problem in 2018 (10.8 per cent) was significantly higher than in 2002 (3.0 per cent).
  • The prevalence of children living in a smoke-free home has increased significantly from 2002 (90.5%) to 2018 (99.7%).

Adults’ report

  • Approximately half (54.4 per cent) of adults self-reported their health status as excellent or very good.
  • Almost one in six (16.3 per cent) adults reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition in the preceding 12 months.
  • Approximately two-thirds (69.5 per cent) of adults slept the recommended number of hours on a usual night in 2018.
  • Approximately one third of adults (32.1 per cent) were estimated to be obese.

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