Mitchell Shire residents are unhealthy, with more than two-thirds of the adult population estimated to be overweight or obese.
New research from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration’s health tracker by area study shows that 70.3 per cent of Mitchell residents were estimated to be overweight or obese, with 33.6 per cent obese.
The percentages were fairly evenly split between genders when looking at the obese category (about 33 per cent), but when expanded to overweight or obese, there were more men (76 per cent) than women (64 per cent).
The region’s younger population fared better, with 28.3 per cent of people aged two to 17 overweight or obese and 8.6 per cent obese.
The digital platform includes a series of maps which provide localised data on chronic diseases and their risk factors at the town, local council, primary health network, state and national level.
Mitchell residents registered in the middle of the scale for the estimated population aged above 18 who were smokers with 20.6 per cent.
A total of 24.6 per cent of males smoke, compared to 16.6 per cent of females.
The data shows an estimated 17.3 per cent of people aged 15 or older drank at ‘risky’ levels.
It also showed a lack of exercise, with Mitchell reporting one of the higher levels of people aged 18 or older who undertook no or low exercise in the previous week with 68.8 per cent.
The research showed estimated health factors were also a concern — 33 per cent of residents had high cholesterol, 22 per cent had high blood pressure and 4.4 per cent of people aged 25 to 64 had diabetes.
Researchers said the data confirmed poorer communities and regional/rural communities had poorer health.
‘‘Our research on over 400000 players from community sports clubs shows that children and young people from low-income areas are much less likely to play sport. For young women, there is a significant drop off across all income groups at age 15,’’ Associate Professor Rochelle Eime said.
Australian Health Policy Collaboration director Rosemary Calder said the patterns emerging in regional Australia were concerning.
She said increasing activity decreased a person’s risk of heart attack, mental illness and cancer.
‘‘Parks, walking tracks, community sports and active work places, schools and towns are what we need to help get more Australians reaping the benefits of physical activity,’’ she said.
VicHealth principal adviser Dr Lyn Roberts called for a national physical activity strategy to deliver policies and programs that worked.
●If you are troubled by this report, experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can phone Lifeline on 131114 or beyondblue on 1300224636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au