A DEADLY combination of high incomes, time restraints, unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity are contributing factors to what one Blackwater doctor labelled as potentially the most obese town in Australia.
Bidgerdii Health Clinic’s Dr Ray Bos said the town was facing a massive fight against the bulge if healthier lifestyle choices were not made by residents.
“Essentially, Blackwater has one of the highest rates of obesity, if not in Queensland, but in Australia,” he said.
“The issue here is you are quite wealthy, people are time-short, they don’t have the time to exercise, and the reality is when you have a lot of money and don’t have time, you eat the wrong things and you don’t exercise enough.
“That’s very frustrating because the health problems are massive.”
Dr Bos, working in Blackwater for most of the past four years, said he has observed the residents’ waistlines expand to dangerous and unhealthy levels, and despite cautioning patients, his warnings have gone unnoticed.
“Exercise is going to be critical,” Dr Bos said.
“Obesity is the biggest problem of the 21st century, and it starts with the children and by the time the children get to adulthood, they are going to have a 10-15 year shorter lifespan.
“It’s going to cost more money than heart disease and cancer, and they are the big killers of this generation.
“It really has to start with the kids,” he said.
“They have to get out there, but the only way they are going to do things is if the parents show them. That’s my frustration.”
Parents who visit his clinic bear no heed to his advice, and have instead passed the unhealthy and inactive lifestyles onto their children.
“You go to Woolworths and look at the people waddling around there,” he said, “and they look at each other and think that’s normal.
“Young girls, one after another, waddling around way overweight, saying, ‘oh I’m not fat, all my friends are like this’.
“They have the money to buy nice cars so they don’t have to walk anywhere and they don’t do anything except eat the wrong things and put on weight.”
The Queensland Government’s Self Reported Health Status 2009-2010 for the Central Queensland Health Service District, incorporating Blackwater and surrounding areas, support Dr Bos’ statements, and state more than half the adult population in the HSD are overweight or obese.
Leading health dietician Melanie McGrice told the Diabetes Queensland’s health symposium last week major changes were needed to Queenslanders’ mindsets to curb obesity rates.
Ms McGrice blamed unhealthy work cultures of long hours and irregular eating patterns for the weight issue.
The Central Highlands Regional Council offers sport and recreation assistance grants up to $5000.
Organisations can apply for the grants for programs or equipment and facilities through two funding rounds, the first of which has closed.
The second round will open later this year, and applications and guidelines are available from all council offices in the Central Highlands.
Dr Bos said there were programs being run by companies and organisations, but not enough to fight the bulge.
“Yarrabee is organising a Biggest Loser-type thing, and that’s a good idea,” he said. “Mines have to start bringing programs like that in for their employees to have a bit of time, either work time or after time, to play games, have challenges with prizes… things like that to really encourage people...”
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