Aussie Suburbs With The Highest Obesity Rates Revealed
Where you live has a huge impact on your weight, with Australia's obesity rates varying dramatically from regional towns to wealthy, coastal suburbs.
According to the latest data, the national obesity rate has risen 27 percent over the past 10 years -- almost one-third of Australians are now obese.
Ahead of World Obesity Day on Friday, the Australian Health Tracker by Area has taken a closer look at the issue's geography.
Areas in regional and rural NSW make up the bulk of Australia's most obese suburbs, the data reveals, while Perth's affluent western postcodes dominate the other end of the list.
Wellington -- located about 50 kilometres southeast of Dubbo in NSW's central west -- has the country's highest obesity rate.
Data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 43.9 percent of the community was classified as obese in 2013-14.
Katherine in the Northern Territory's top-end takes out a close second place (43.3 percent), while central-west NSW towns Lachlan, Forbes and Blayney come in at third, fourth and fifth respectively.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nedlands in Western Australia takes the top spot on the Health Tracker's list of the least obese suburbs, with just 12.8 percent.
Located in Perth's so-called 'golden triangle' of affluent western suburbs, Nedlands is bordered by King Park and Botan Garden. It's close to the water and located just seven kilometres from the city's CBD.
Neighbouring suburbs Claremont, Mosman Park and Cambridge trail closely behind, each with less than 15 percent of their communities considered obese.
Ku-ring-gai and Willoughby -- in Sydney's upmarket North Shore -- are in similar positions, with 14.2 and 14.4 percent respectively.
Victoria University's Professor Rosemary Calder said it was unsurprising wealthier, inner-city suburbs have lower rates of obesity.
“These suburbs are usually green and leafy, with more space dedicated to parks, gardens and recreational facilities," Calder said.
“People in our wealthier suburbs tend to have better access to information about healthy diet and the financial means to access healthy food options and enjoyable physical activity.”
When asked if she was surprised her town was listed as the country's fourth-most obese, Forbes Mayor Phyllis Miller said: "we knew we would be somewhere on there".
"But we didn't realise how high up we were," she added.
Miller said the local council is "very conscious" of the town's obesity rate and has allocated substantial funds to updating local sporting fields and outdoor walking tracks in a bid to "get people off the couch".
"Our biggest problem is we are now the digital society, everyone's on the phone and everyone's sitting down watching things, so we're trying to combat that," she said.
With a population of just over 8,000 people, Forbes is known for its heritage buildings and beautiful lakes.
But while she feels providing residents with adequate fitness facilities is crucial to improving overall health, Miller said doing so is a tough challenge for local government.
"We are always trying to get funds for sporting fields. We fight like cats and dogs just to have a good grandstand at the football stadium," Miller said.
"They spend millions and trillions in the city, and yet we're fighting to have good facilities for our 500 junior rugby league players every Saturday."
Professor Calder is calling on all levels of government address the gap between metropolitan areas and regional towns when it comes to sustaining healthy lifestyles.
“The establishment of a national preventive health taskforce by the Federal Minister for Health is an essential first step in the right direction," Calder said.
"It is vitally important that governments at all levels focus on collectively addressing the impact of where we live on our health."