Smoking, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption can have a detrimental effect on health outcomes. Previous international research has identified that higher educational attainment leading to higher health literacy, was linked with healthy behaviour. Using the 2014-15 National Health Survey, we show that positive relationships exist between higher educational attainment and healthy behaviour in Australia. These trends hold after controlling for a range of confounding factors including age, gender, occupation, income and country of birth. Increasing educational attainment is also associated with reduced rates of mortality. We also found positive but weaker evidence of improved body mass index, fruit and vegetable consumption and blood pressure (see Appendix).
Smoking is a leading preventable cause of chronic disease and death in Australia. Further, passive smoking causes early death and health problems in children and adults who do not smoke. Using National Health Survey data we found the likelihood of people never smoking significantly increased with educational attainment (Figure 1).