New data shows Coast’s shocking obesity rate
DAMNING data has revealed one in five youths and three in five adults on the Sunshine are overweight, despite the region comparing better than most other centres.
A study by the Australian Health Tracker shows the Coast is bucking the national trend.
Nationally, 67 per cent of people are overweight or obese and 28.2 per cent of youths are overweight or obese.
On the Coast, the figures reveal 78,304 (28.2 per cent) of Coast adults are obese, 164,413 adults (61.2 per cent) are overweight, 4599 youths (6.8 per cent) are obese and 15,901 youths (23.2 per cent) are overweight.
While the Coast fares better than other regions, overweight or obese residents are still at a higher risk of diabetes, cancers, heart disease, arthritis and dementia.
Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University said the study showed a direct correlation on the impact of "where people live and their wealth on health".
"We have spent too long as a nation expecting individuals to be able to change their behaviour to reduce their weight," Professor Calder 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."
She said it was no surprise that Brisbane's wealthy city suburbs had the lowest rates of obesity.
"These suburbs are usually green and leafy, with more space dedicated to parks, gardens and recreational facilities," she said.
"They often are well serviced by public transport, bike paths and are relatively close to where people work which enables people to be physically active in their commute to work, rather than rely on the car.
"They have a greater density of shops selling fresh fruit and veg, greater competition promoting lower prices for healthy foods and fewer fast food outlets.
"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."
A second report, released by Queensland Health, shows one in 10 adults and one in 12 children consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said although several factors influenced obesity rates, research suggested that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food played a significant role.
She said comprehensive action needed to be taken to highlight the amount of sugar and empty kilojoules in the drinks and the potential health impacts of high levels of consumption.
"Many people don't realise the impact of sugary drinks on weight gain," Ms McMillan said.
"For example, one 600mL bottle of regular soft drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar.
"Research has shown that 13 types of cancer are more common in people who are above a healthy weight and one of the easiest things people can do to reduce their risk is to reduce sugary drink consumption."
Every year in Australia, about 3900 cancer cases are attributed to unhealthy weight gain and research published in the International Journal of Cancer shows more than 200,000 cancer cases could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if all Australian adults maintained a healthy weight and met the physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention.