The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has advised that Australians living in regional areas are more likely to be overweight or obese
Somewhat frighteningly, being overweight is something that affects that majority of Australians, with around 63% of Australian adults being overweight. Some areas are more affected than other though, with a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) finding that Australians living in regional areas are more likely to be obese than their city cousins.
Country South Australia, for example, had the highest percentage of overweight or obese adults (73.3%, almost three in four people). This compares with Northern Sydney with the lowest rate of overweight or obese adults at 53.4%, or just over half.
When looking at just obesity (a body mass index of 30 and above) a wider variation was seen in adults across PHN areas.
“With obesity we see even wider variation with 16% of adults who were shown to be obese in Central and Eastern Sydney, compared with 38% in Country South Australia. Again, the highest obesity rates were recorded in regional areas,” said AIHW spokesperson Michael Frost.
Obesity is a national health crisis
The Australian Medical Association NSW President, Prof Brad Frankum, has stated that obesity is a national health crisis and that politicians need to take a stand.
“Even in the slimmest part of the country, more than 50% of the population is overweight or obese. This is more worrying than nearly 65% of the entire population of Australia being overweight or obese,” he said.
“This is a national health crisis but it is a slow-moving one that will be difficult to solve and these sorts of problems are often put into the too-hard basket by Australian governments.
“The longer we go without action, the more difficult it will be to solve.”
Prof Frankum said that Australians need better access to healthy eating, meal plans, exercise programs, better urban design to facilitate activity, access to public transport, and, in some cases, better access to weight loss surgery.
“There is also a need to dissuade people from buying things like sugary drinks – a sugar tax on them is a good starting point,” he said.