Regional obesity at higher levels
Obesity rates in regional areas are proportionally higher than in metropolitan areas, according to new findings, which has led leading health organisations to press the importance of nutrition for those living regionally.
The release of a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report last month, Nutrition Across the Life Stages, revealed higher rates of obesity in regional and remote areas, with a 53 per cent rate of obesity in major cities, compared to 57 per cent in inner regional areas and 61 per cent in outer regional and remote areas.
The report also showed the quality of food and nutrition intake was higher in cities, compared with those living in regional areas, who were found to consume less food with grains, more food with added sugar, more saturated and trans fat, less fibre and more salt.
The National Rural Health Alliance chief executive Mark Diamond said the report could not be ignored.
“The AIHW report clearly shows the links between poor diets and obesity and we are concerned it also shows that these problems increase the further away from major metropolitan centres that people live,” he said.
Mr Diamond noted supply and affordability in the most remote WA communities likely contributed to the figures.
“Supply and affordability of fresh produce appear to be limiting factors in dietary quality,” he said.
“Limited stocks of fruit and vegetables have been found in remote shops near indigenous communities . . . and what is available is expensive.”
“Additionally, lack of competition in these areas appears to be a factor with price.”
Mr Diamond said the figures joined recent findings about the rise of chronic conditions such as diabetes in remote and regional areas in particular.
According to the WA Country Health Service, the rate of diabetes-related hospitalisations in 2017 were 1.25 higher in the Pilbara, 1.6 times higher in the Goldfields and 3.2 times higher in the Kimberley.