Almost one-third of Australian adults are classed as obese while half are considered physically inactive. In some Australian suburbs, nearly 50 per cent of the population is obese while inactivity is as high as 75 per cent.
These are the stark findings from new research by the Heart Foundation, which illustrates the state of the nation’s health.
According to the report, which was based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the area of Darling Downs in Queensland, home to the towns of Toowoomba and Dalby, is the most obese in the nation.
Almost 44 per cent of Darling Downs’ adult population is obese, while three-quarters of the population is insufficiently active.
Five out of 10 of Australia’s unhealthiest regions are in Queensland.
The second-most unhealthy population in Australia is South Australia’s south east coast, where 36 per cent of residents are obese and 72 per cent are inactive.
Victoria’s regional city of Shepparton has the third-most unhealthy population in the country.
Heart Foundation National CEO Mary Barry said the high rates of obesity nationwide were alarming.
“Far from being the fit and active, outdoors type often portrayed, this data shows us that nearly one-third of Australians are obese and more than half are living sedentary lifestyles with little or no physical activity in their day,” Ms Barry said.
“The truth is as a nation our waist lines are increasing while our physical activity time is decreasing.
“We are creating bodies that are breeding grounds for heart disease.”
Where are the healthiest people living?
Australia’s healthiest people tend to have one thing in common – they live in our big cities.
In Sydney’s inner-city, no fewer than six regions placed in the top 20 fittest and leanest areas.
Residents of Sydney’s eastern suburbs such as Bondi, Surry Hills and Vaucluse are the healthiest in Australia, where 75 per cent of the population is sufficiently active and only 13 per cent are obese.
Despite the cool weather, lack of beaches and gluttonous dining, residents of inner-city Melbourne were only slightly behind Sydneysiders in terms of health.
Only 30 per cent of residents in Melbourne inner-city suburbs like Carlton, Albert Park, Parkville and Richmond don’t get sufficient exercise, while just 13.9 per cent are considered obese.
Residents of cities had better health than those in regional areas, with Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide residents all placing in the top 30 out of 92 total regions.
In fact, the 13 most unhealthy and overweight areas were all regional.
The report found living in coastal areas had a positive impact on heath, however, as did living in the nation’s political capital.
Only 49 per cent of Canberrans aren’t sufficiently active, while 23 per cent of the population is overweight.
Residents of coastal areas like the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and Warrnambool in Victoria also had lower than average obesity rates, with one in five people in these areas measuring as obese.
Ms Barry said obesity and inactivity were the two largest contributors to developing heart disease – Australia’s biggest killer.
Approximately 55,000 people die from heart disease each year, or one every 12 minutes.
“The decision to drop the excess weight and be active for at least 30 minutes a day is enough to reduce your heart disease risk,” Ms Barry said.
“Physical inactivity is a leading contributor to the burden of chronic disease in Australia, with an estimated total cost to the health budget of $1.5 billion.
“In the end if people make the simple decision to move more and sit less they will not only feel better but they will also add years onto their life.”
Top 10 unhealthiest areas
1. Darling Downs-Maranoa, QLD
2. Limestone Coast, SA
3. Shepparton, VIC
4. Ipswich, QLD
5. Mackay, QLD
6. South Australian Outback, SA
7. Riverina, NSW
8. Fitzroy, QLD
9. Ballarat, VIC
10. Toowoomba, QLD
Top 10 healthiest areas
1. Sydney eastern suburbs, NSW
2. Melbourne inner city, VIC
3. Sydney city and inner south, NSW
4. Perth inner city, WA
5. North Sydney and Hornsby, NSW
6. West Brisbane, QLD
7. Brisbane inner city, QLD
8. Melbourne inner east, VIC
9. Ryde, NSW
10. Sydney inner west, NSW