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Only 7% of Australians are healthy

Do you think you have a healthy lifestyle? Chances are, according to science, your lifestyle could do with some improvements. A study conducted by researchers at Deakin University has found that by using what researchers have labelled a Health Behaviour Score (HBS), only 7% of Australian adults are healthy. Think you’re one of them?

Based on five specific risk factors – if you’ve ever smoked, the quality of your diet, your level of physical activity, time spent sedentary and nightly sleep duration – the HBS can determine how healthy you are. The study conducted by Dr Katherine Livingstone and Professor Sarah McNaughton from Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) aimed to ‘investigate associations between a HBS and prevalence of hypertension and overweight/obesity among Australian adults.’

More than 4,000 adults aged between 19 and 85 years old from the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey were each given a score of one or zero for each of the five risk factors. Receiving a one indicated the factor was adequately met, whilst zero meant it was not. Overall, each participant was given a total score out of 5.

The results? The higher you score, the healthier you are. To achieve such a score means you’ve never smoked, you meet most Australian Dietary Guidelines, participate in approximately 150 minutes of physical activity per week, spend less than eight hours of time per day sedentary, and get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Interestingly, the study found that ‘Those with a higher HBS were more likely to be individuals who are female, younger adults, of normal weight, have higher levels of education and higher incomes.

But how do these findings help to combat issues with obesity and hypertension in Australian adults? As the study states, ‘The combined effect of multiple lifestyle behaviours into a single health behaviour score may better reflect the correlation between risk factors observed in a real-life context.’ This means we now have a measurable way of identifying individual areas of our overall health to lessen an association with hypertension and obesity.

Watch the video below to find out more about the benefits of working out your own Health Behaviour Score.

Interested in developing the research and knowledge behind health and exercise? Check out a range of study options in food, nutrition and dietetics at Deakin. 

this. featured experts
Dr Katherine Livingstone
Dr Katherine Livingstone

Lecturer, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University

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Professor Sarah McNaughton
Professor Sarah McNaughton

NHMRC Career Development Fellow, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University

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