Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine has today in Melbourne presented the latest State of the Nation Report with a special Spotlight on Australians’ Health.

The report examines how Australians are faring across seven key health areas: smoking, alcohol consumption, nutrition, activity levels, illnesses, Body Mass Index (BMI) and psychological wellbeing.

While we are making solid improvements in some areas, especially in reduced incidence and consumption of smoking cigarettes, we are getting fatter and more anxious.     


  • The Alere Wellness Index powered by Roy Morgan Research survey data shows an overall health gain from a base of 100 at the start of tracking in December 2007 to 101.47 as of March 2014.
  • Of the seven subindices, we have improved in five: smoking, nutrition, activity and fitness, alcohol and medical conditions—but our BMI and Psych results are down.

Alere Wellness Index* Sub-Indices Scores:

* Powered by Roy Morgan Research Single Source, January 2007 to March 2014.


  • As of latest data to March 2014, 15.2% of Australian adults smoke cigarettes, down from 18.9% in the year to March 2008. 
  • Smokers’ average per day is also down over the period, from 15.34 to 13.54 – almost two per day fewer per smoker.
  • In total, Australians now smoke almost eight million fewer cigarettes per day than in 2008


  • 3 in 5 Australian adults drunk alcohol in an average week in the year to March 2014, down from 63.6% in the year to March 2008.
  • Drinkers now consume an average of 11.9 drinks a week, down almost a full glass from 12.8 six years ago.
  • Overall, Australians consume 129 million glasses of alcohol per week, down just1 million from 130 million in 2008. 
  • Consumption of beer, wine, spirits and ready-to-drink alcohol have all declined, with only cider showing an increase over the period.


  • 3 in 5 Australian adults are overweight, with a BMI over 25.
  • Around 5.8m men and 5.2m women are now overweight, but the average overweight man carries an extra 15.6kg compared with 17.1kg for overweight women.
  • The average overweight Australian adult has an extra 16.5kg, up from 15.5kg in 2008.  
  • For a combined total of over 180,000 tonnes of extra weight, up from 150,000 in 2008.


  • 48.5% of Australians do some formal exercise, including gym, aerobics, running and cycling in an average three months, up from 45.4% in Mar 08. 24% of Aussies played a sport in that time, almost unchanged from 24.1% in 08.


  • In the year to March 2014, 56.9% of Australians 18+ visited a quick service (fast food) restaurant in an average four weeks, down from 61.2% in the year to March 2008.
  • However those who do visit fast food places today are more likely to go more often:  22.8% of visitors now go 10 or more times in an average month, up from 19.3% of visitors in 2008.
  • Meanwhile only around 4% of Australians eat the recommended 2+ serves of fruit and 5+ serves of vegetables per day.


  • The average Australian adult suffers from 11 illnesses or conditions in an average year, almost unchanged from 2008.
  • Although the types of illnesses suffered changes with age, the number increases only slightly: 18-24 year olds report suffering an average of 9 illnesses in a year, 25-34 year-olds report 10, 35-49 year-olds 11 and those 50+ around 12.
  • 239 illnesses have been tracked since the Wellness Index began. The proportion of Australians suffering from these illnesses has gone down for 94 (39%), gone up for 95 (40%), and remained the same for 50 (21%).  
  • 17% of Australian adults say they don’t feel well and in good health.
  • Of all illnesses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has the most common adverse effect on overall wellbeing, with 62% of sufferers saying they don’t feel well and in good health.
  • Other sufferers with high rates of ill-feeling overall include those with Lung disease (55%), Fibromyalgia (54%), Frequent Infection (53%), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Liver problems, Muscular weakness and Neuropathy (all 47%).


  • In the 12 months to March 2014, 2.8 million Australian adults (15.6%) reported suffering anxiety in the past year, up from 1.5 million (9.2%) in the year to March 2008.
  • Anxiety has overtaken Depression as the second most-common mental health issue in Australia.
  • Today, 24.4% report suffering from Stress, 14.2% Depression, 7.5% Sleep Disorders and 5.2% Panic attacks during the past year.  
  • The rise in anxiety mirrors a rise in un- or underemployment, from 11.3% (Dec 07) to 18.7%. People who are looking for work, either due to unemployment or underemployment, are 63% more likely to suffer anxiety than those who are fully employed. 

As usual, this quarterly State of the Nation report also contains the latest statistics on Australians’ attitudes and behaviours as revealed through extensive face-to-face interviews across the country.

For more information or to organise an interview with CEO Michele Levine on the drivers and implications of these latest health results, please contact:

Nikki Taylor 
Office: (03) 9223 2486
Mobile: 0425 812 773 
[email protected] 

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Shaun Ellis
P: 03 9224 5332


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