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We’re weighty out west

Saturday, 27th August, 2011

Locals are being encouraged get up and exercise after a recent study showed that more than 70 per cent of people in the Far West were overweight or obese.

The 2010 Report on Adult Health, released this week, revealed that 72.1 per cent of the people surveyed in the Far West were too big compared with the overall adult population.

The NSW Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries, said the report validates the public awareness campaigns about the need to eat fruit and vegetables and take regular exercise.

“The adult health findings do indicate more work needs to be done on reducing the rates of obesity and increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes,” he said.

Local Senior Epidemiologist, Margaret Lesjak, said obesity was a problem throughout the western world.

“You can see in general how thin people were 10 to 20 years ago. People aren’t playing outside as much due to technology, changes in diet and more choice in food,” Ms Lesjak said.

However, she said more variety in what people eat did not necessarily mean the healthier option was being chosen.

Ms Lesjak said people were working longer hours or two jobs and did not realise that eating healthy was as satisfying as eating unhealthy food.

The reason more people in the Far West might be fatter the rest of the State was due to its isolation, she said.

“Part of it is we are a long way for distribution. We are not as close to Sydney where they have a lot of markets and we are in a different climate,” she said.

She said the quality and variety of food in the big cities might not be available here.

Socio-economic differences could also play, Ms Lesjak said, because being overweight can increase the chances of getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The risk of developing chronic disorders like respiratory diseases were also increased.

“You are what you eat. The choice of vegetables might be less and you can’t have a side of chips with everything,” Ms Lesjak said.

She advised anyone thinking about losing weight or getting healthy to see a health professional.

Something as simple as running, walking or riding your bike to work can help.

“There are a range of programs such as NSW Health, ‘Eat Right, Play Right’; which is especially for children, the Get Healthy website and Go 2 and 5 (2 fruit and 5 vegetables daily),” Ms Lesjak said.

She said the last initiative was particularly important especially when it comes to eating vegetables.

“There is an issue with difficulty in getting health workers to Broken Hill, which provides a strain on the hospital as it is. Stay healthy and stay out of the hospital. You will feel better, happier and enjoy life much more,” Ms Lesjak said.

“There are too many good things about staying healthy.”

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