Cherbourg listed with highest obesity rate in QLD
Eye-opening statistics from the Australian Health Tracker by Area show a higher percentage of obesity in rural and remote areas in Queensland, compared to metropolitan areas.
The Tracker highlights that more than 40 per cent of adults in rural areas were categorised obese, in contrast to only 23 per cent in the central Brisbane population.
In particular, the council area of Cherbourg was listed with the highest percentage of obesity rates in Queensland, with 41.5 per cent in comparison to Brisbane's 23.8 per cent.
The second highest was Goondiwindi and Balonne, both with 39.5 per cent, Western Downs following with 39.3 per cent and Maranoa with 39.1 per cent.
The North Burnett and South Burnett both came in at 38.6 per cent.
These results come in ahead of World Obesity Day, which takes place on Friday, October 11.
Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute of Victoria University stated that action was needed to target prevention strategies in these disadvantaged communities.
"We have spent too long as a nation expecting individuals to be able to change their behaviour to reduce their weight,” she said.
"However, the evidence is very clear that this has little chance of success without a very strong focus on the environmental factors in the places where we live that contribute to poor nutrition and inactivity.”
Professor Calder is not surprised that Brisbane had a much lower rate of obesity compared to places like Cherbourg and Maranoa.
"These suburbs are usually green and leafy, with more space dedicated to parks, gardens and recreational facilities,” she said.
"People in our wealthier suburbs tend to have better access to information about healthy diet and the financial means to access healthy food options and enjoyable physical activity.”
Professor Calder also said that these areas with higher rates of obesity also have higher rates of smoking, inactivity and chronic illness.
She also said they are largely low-socioeconomic communities, which highlights the impact of poverty on heath.
To make changes to help improve these areas surrounding the South Burnett, Ms Calder believes policy change is needed.
"The establishment of a national preventive health task-force by the Federal Minister for Health is an essential first step in the right direction. It is vitally important that governments at all levels focus on collectively addressing the impact of where we live on our health,” she said.
"Local governments are critical to local planning and to creation of healthy and active spaces for their residents, but their ability is often dependent on state government policies and hampered by lack of funding and regulatory power.”