Healthy choices needed to reduce obesity rate

NEARLY 37 per cent of adults in the Central Highlands are obese, recently released data suggests.

In broader terms, more than 40 per cent of adults are considered obese in rural Queensland, according to the Australian Health Tracker.

CQ Hospital and Health Board Chair Paul Bell used to weigh 108kg, but lost 32kg in just 8 months.

He said the most effective lifestyle changes to drop the kilos were to buy healthier products and eat less.

“The number one issue is certainly that we’re overeating and overeating the wrong foods,” Mr Bell said.

“As a region I’d say the biggest issue is purely that we can access lots of food that’s not good for our health — it’s pre-made, and high in fat and sugar.”

Mr Bell estimated that 80 per cent of his change was due to effort in the kitchen. He said it was now easier than ever to make healthy choices.

“For some people eating poorly is a pleasure thing, and for anyone under stress it can be a comforter, but I don’t think there’s any excuse to say we can’t prepare eat healthy food.

“We’ve got access to so many fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute, a health policy think tank, said that infrastructure and the environment should be considered when comparing health data by region.

“People in our wealthier suburbs tend to have better access to information about healthy diets and the financial means to access healthy food options and enjoyable physical activity.

“These suburbs are usually green and leafy, with more space dedicated to parks, gardens and recreational facilities. 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.”

The national data indicate that Australia’s adult obesity rate has risen 27 per cent in the past 10 years to almost a third of the population.

Two thirds of Australian adults are now overweight or obese, placing them at higher risk of diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, arthritis and dementia.

“The negative health effects are a big price to pay for not eating well,” Mr Bell said.

“Have a treat on Friday night, but in general reduce your portion size and amount of fatty food intake.

“Make it a challenge for yourself and consider it an investment in the future.”