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Would you pass a health-literacy test?

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October 27, 2017

Around seven million Australian adults are failing to manage their health through diet and exercise, a University of Canberra report has found.

Around seven million Australian adults are failing to manage their health through diet and exercise, a University of Canberra report has found.

The research, commissioned by Bayer, suggests many Australians don’t have the knowledge to manage their health concerns, with only six-out-of-10 people scoring highly on a health-literacy test.

A lack of physical activity and poor nutrition have both been linked to an increase in the soaring rates of chronic illness, including diabetes.

To investigate how Australians seek advice on health management, researchers analysed online-search behaviours in self-care across food and nutrition. They also evaluated attitudes and issues raised in online forums.

According to the report, interest in nutrition and health information has increased, with searches for fruit, vegetables and nutrition growing steadily.

However, many Australians still have poor health literacy, study author and senior research fellow at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra Michael Jensen said.

There’s a need to improve health literacy and self-care in disadvantaged communities, such as indigenous, regional and rural Australians, Mr Jensen said.

‘‘The biggest concern for Australians living in rural and remote areas is access to healthcare services. There is a real need and opportunity for improved online resources for these communities, to better allow them to manage their nutrition and health needs and connect them to healthcare services.’’

Federal Assistant Minister for Health David Gillespie is encouraging all Australians to focus on better nutrition and health management.

‘‘The cost of healthcare in Australia has increased more than three-fold in the last 15 years. This is a major concern for the Australian Government and public,’’ Dr Gillespie said.

The final phase of the research involved a survey of 1000 adults.

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