AIA Australia has highlighted the increasing evidence of the impact of mental health conditions on Australia’s health statistics, as well as the significant link between the environment and chronic disease.
A statement from the insurer says that until recently, the evidence and data on global disease found that four modifiable lifestyle factors (physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking and excess alcohol) led to four major non communicable diseases (cancer, diabetes, respiratory and heart diseases) that were responsible for 90 percent of deaths in Australia.
It says that in recognition of this, AIA Australia had termed the insight 4490 (4 + 4 = 90).
Now the insurer has presented its 5590+ framework, recognising that a fifth modifiable risk factor: our interaction with the environment, and a fifth NCD: mental health conditions and disorders, in addition to the existing NCDs, account for more than 90 percent of deaths in Australia.
CEO and Managing Director of AIA Australia and New Zealand, Damien Mu, says 5590+ is critical to increasing awareness about the impact that lifestyle factors have on mostly preventable NCDs.
He says that as a life, health and wellbeing insurer, the company sees “…the devastating impact that chronic health conditions can have on Australians and their families, and we are concerned at the increasing numbers of people who are hospitalised or unable to work due to a serious medical condition”.
The statement says the key messages from 5590+ align with those of AIA Australia’s science-backed health and wellbeing program AIA Vitality, which incentivises people to focus on four core elements of their wellbeing:
- Physical activity (Move Well),
- Nutrition (Eat Well),
- Mental wellbeing (Think Well)
- Preventive measures (Plan Well)
Mu says a greater focus on prevention and early intervention is required to prevent symptoms from developing into more serious and lasting conditions.
“The 5590+ insight shows us that by focusing on and improving five behaviours, we can help prevent five major non-communicable diseases.”
…the fifth modifiable risk factor, the environment, is now recognised as a significant cause of disease…
The statement adds that the fifth modifiable risk factor, the environment, is now recognised as a significant cause of disease, with research demonstrating links between NCDs and environmental factors such as air pollution, climate change, agriculture and food, and urbanisation.
Environmentalist and AIA Vitality Ambassador, Tim Jarvis AM, says that it is almost impossible to separate human health from the health of the broader environment today.
“…we now know that the quality of the air we breathe has implications on non-communicable diseases in the form of cardiovascular disease, lung function and asthma; the quality of food we eat is impacted by environmental factors such as food safety, microbes, chemicals and bio toxins; and ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of skin cancers…”
Mental health conditions and disorders on the rise
AIA states that the fifth NCD, mental health conditions and disorders, is on the rise in Australia and overseas.
“It is estimated that one in five Australians are impacted by mental health conditions, with almost four million Australians suffering from a chronic or episodic mental health condition each year. Depression is also the leading cause of disability worldwide.”
AIA says it has invested heavily in developing initiatives that support Australians to maintain and improve their health.
It has developed an ecosystem of products, services and partnerships, designed to shift healthcare efforts away from treatment towards health promotion and prevention of NCDs, by addressing the modifiable behaviours that have the greatest impact.
“By prioritising self-care in five key lifestyle areas – good nutrition, regular exercise, living in a clean environment, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake – we can reduce the collective rate of disease across the nation,” says Mu.
He is optimistic that the 5590+ research will drive collaboration between the private sector, government and not-for-profit organisations to improve health and wellbeing outcomes in Australia, as well as globally.