Australian health outcomes have been making positive progress, but there is still some room for improvement, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The organisation recently released its latest two-yearly national report card on the country's health system, and there are several satisfactory results. Firstly, Australia is now in the top ten global rankings for life expectancy, coming in at sixth place for men and seventh place for women. These put the country closer to the 2011 first-place finishers of Iceland (for male life expectancy) and Japan (for females).
Compared to the previous century, Australians are now living 25 years longer on average. The life expectancy for men is 79.9 years and 84 for women.
Australians are also rating their own health highly. During the 2011-12 period, 85 per cent of people aged 15 years or older said they were in good to excellent levels of health.
In more good news for the nation, daily smoking rates have fallen to 16 per cent in 2010 from 43 per cent in 1964. As well as this, more five-year-olds are receiving the necessary vaccinations (92 per cent in 2012, up from 79 per cent in 2008).
Last but not least, the AIHW report showed people were "mostly happy" with the health system in place in Australia.
While these results bode well for the nation's health as whole, there are several areas where the AIHW believes improvements can be achieved.
"On the "room for improvement" side, we see that Australians are increasingly living with ongoing or "chronic" diseases and their risk factors-which are related to our ageing population as well as to lifestyles and health habits," said AIHW Director and Chief Executive Officer David Kalisch.
Mr Kalisch says these chronic health problems have been called "Australia's greatest health challenge" in the past. Several risk factors and bad habits continue to present a challenge for many Australians, including smoking, insufficient levels of physical activity and exercise and poor nutrition.
Previous research has shown just 8 per cent of adults getting enough of their daily vegetable intake, and 63 per cent are categorised as being overweight or obese.
These results indicate some lifestyle habits may be harder to break, even when the benefits are clearly defined.
If you're concerned about maintaining your family's health, preventive measures can be a useful solution. A suitable family health insurance policy along with a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity can reduce risk factors for many health concerns and conditions.