Lifestyle choices impacting our health

THE good news is we have been putting on sunscreen.

The bad news - we are probably rubbing the lotion on an overweight body while we're drunk and smoking a cigarette.

According to Queensland Health's Self Reported Health Status from 2011-12 report, more than 60% of residents surveyed in the Mackay area are overweight.

The study compared the Mackay Hospital and Health Service region, which includes Mackay, Sarina and as far north as Bowen, against other regions around the state.

On a whole, most regional areas fared worse than their metropolitan counterparts.

The Gold Coast region had the healthiest residents.

Mackay Base Hospital emergency department physician Dr Dale Hanson said the figures were concerning but by no means surprising.

Dr Hanson said about 68% of deaths in this region, or 250 a year, could be avoided if residents made healthy lifestyle choices.

"We are seeing more people coming in for cardiovascular disease and more people dying from cardiovascular diseases," Dr Hanson said.

"And that is very tragic because all of these deaths could potentially be prevented."

In Mackay more than 30% of people surveyed were drinking at high-risk level.

This is 8% higher than the rest of the state, where only about 21% of people are drinking too much.

"And it is of no surprise to an emergency physician, because we see that coming into our emergency department every day," Dr Hanson said.

"But they are most common in our emergency department on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights."

Dr Hanson said his biggest concern was that people in Mackay would start to think these unhealthy lifestyle choices were the norm.

"We behave as social human beings and we behave like the people around us," he said.

"If your friend gains weight, you are more likely to gain weight. However, if your friend quits smoking, you are more likely to quit smoking.

"My biggest message is prevention is better than cure."

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