Media releases

December 17, 2013

Despite the outdoor lifestyle a new global health survey reveals Australians can do more to improve their health

- Australians claim to be more overweight than anyone else -
- As a nation we exercise less and drink more than most countries surveyed -
- Medibank encourages Australians to take small steps towards better health everyday -

Despite Australia's reputation around the world as a land of keen sportsmen and healthy outdoor living, a new global survey has revealed the country is far behind many other nations on a number of important health issues; including exercise, weight, healthy eating and alcohol consumption.

Questioning over 4000 residents of the UK, US, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and Australia, the Medibank Generation Better research also found Australians give more excuses than any other country as to why they aren't healthy; with tiredness (37%) and not having enough time (33%) being the top two cited reasons.

But not everyone's unhealthy. The survey also showed an extreme divide between healthy and unhealthy Australians with one in ten doing at least thirty minutes of intense exercise every day of the week.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Ian Boyd, Medibank's Medical Director says: "It's disappointing to see Australia trail behind other countries in terms of these health indicators. This research also tells us that Australians aren't realising that it doesn't have to be all or nothing - and in fact it shouldn't be.

"You don't need to be an ironman. Walking the dog, eating extra vegetables with dinner, taking a weekend break and making sure you are getting enough sleep, are also important to well-being and long-term health."

Survey results highlighted the following insights across different health topics:

Weight and exercise
Australians are the most likely to think they are overweight or very overweight, with a quarter claiming to be in this category. One possible reason for this could be lack of exercise, as apart from the French, Australia has the largest proportion of people who never exercise, with a quarter never breaking a sweat compared to just 2% in Italy.

Food and drink
Food and drink see similar results. Despite '5 a day' being so widely talked about, less than 15% of Australians eat at least two servings of fruit and veg every day. This is significantly less than in the UK, US, China, Italy and France.

Around 1 in 10 Australians consume 20-50 units of alcohol every week; well above the recommended limit of 14 units per week*, falling just behind the biggest drinkers from the UK and China.

Australians have an open mind when it comes to looking after themselves; we're more likely to turn to meditation than any other country questioned with almost a quarter believing it can improve health. We also appreciate how much owning a pet can help, as do the Brits, with almost a third believing it can improve health.

Dr. Ian Boyd, added: "We believe good health is attainable by everyone - all you need is a positive attitude and support from the people around you. So we're encouraging Australians to support each other and share their own individual health habits and goals via #GenBetter. It's amazing to see so many people get involved."

Head to to see how people are inspiring each other to create healthier futures.

The Medibank Generation Better research was conducted online by Pure Profile in November 2013 on a global sample of over 4000 people from Australia, UK, US, China, Japan, Germany, Italy and France. All questions were asked in English.

*Alcohol guidelines from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia advise safe levels of drinking should be no more than 2 standard drinks per day,14 units per week (Source:

About Generation Better 
Medibank Generation Better is a movement to help Australians take achievable steps towards healthier, happier and better lives. It encourages everyone to share their steps via Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube using #GenBetter.

More information can be found at

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