Obesity on the rise

By Jessica Anstice

More than 32 percent of people are obese in Cardinia, the Australian Health Tracker by Area shows ahead of World Obesity Day.

The national average is 31.3 percent, rising from 24.6 percent in 2007-09.

Greater than 36 percent of people are obese in parts of outer metropolitan and regional Victoria, more than double the rate of obesity in wealthy central and east Melbourne suburbs.

The rate of obesity varies dramatically across the country and highlights the impact of where people live and wealth on people’s health.

Professor Rosemary Calder from health policy think tank, the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University said action was needed to focus prevention strategies in the most disadvantaged communities.

“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.”

Professor Calder said policy change was needed at every level government.

“The establishment of a national preventive health taskforce 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 places with the highest rates of obesity also have much higher rates of smoking, inactivity and chronic illness.

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