A new health survey shows 58 per cent of us are living with a chronic illness.
A new health survey shows 58 per cent of us are living with a chronic illness. Dean Mitchell

REPORT: 60% of Gympie, Coast locals are chronically ill

ALMOST 60 per cent of people living across the Gympie, Noosa and Sunshine Coast council areas are estimated to be living with a long-term health condition, as national concern over chronic illnesses grows.

Data taken from the 2017-18 National Health Survey revealed 249,000 people living in the three areas, which make up the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, were estimated to be living with "one or more” long-term health conditions.

That number equates to 58 per cent of the area's total population, and comes amid growing concerns Australia's health care systems are struggling to cope with the rising numbers.

The numbers from the latest survey found that 11.4 million Australians, or almost 50 per cent, now have a chronic disease.

Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit Anne Maree Baldwin, Advanced Epidemiologist, outlined the key contributing factors behind the issue.

"This estimate (58 per cent) includes people who reported living with conditions such as diabetes or a musculoskeletal, cardiovascular or mental health condition,” Ms Baldwin said.

"More than one third of Queenslanders' time which is lost through chronic disease (ill health or early death) is due to preventable lifestyle, biomedical and other risk factors, using Queensland's results from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011.

"Making simple changes to your lifestyle can help prevent many chronic diseases or reduce their impact on your life.”

Ms Baldwin said those changes included maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, limiting alcohol intake, enjoying a wide range of nutritious foods, and building and maintaining healthy relationships.

She noted the high rate in the SCHHS area were somewhat expected due to the high percentages of older people living in the area, a demographic in which chronic conditions were more common.

She also noted the comparison of results over time was "challenging” due to changes in survey questions since the previous National Health Survey.