Region among worst for cancer deaths, smoking and obesity

THE Fraser Coast region has been ranked one of the worst areas in the state for obesity and smoking.

The Chief Health Officer report released on Wednesday reveals Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service has a 32% higher obesity and 47% higher smoking rate compared to the rest of Queensland.

The region ranks among the worst three areas in Queensland for obesity and smoking, and among the worst for cancer deaths.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president and Hervey Bay GP Dr Shaun Rudd said it was all related.

"Your health is completely related to your postcode, it's as simple as that," he said.

"It has nothing to do with good or bad services, it's a social problem."

Dr Rudd said obesity, alcohol and smoking were risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"One of the worst figures we have here is that the number of young women who are pregnant and smoke in the Wide Bay area is way ahead of the state average," he said.

"Here it is 27% and the state average is 17%."

Dr Rudd also said the region's demographic could explain the high smoking rates.

He said the area had a large population of the elderly and of young people, who could be smoking.

But he said there were not many middle age people to balance out the figures.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service public health officer Margaret Young said social disadvantage was associated with higher smoking and obesity rates.

"Smoking rates among the most socio-economically disadvantaged group are almost twice as high as those in the most advantaged group," she said.

"There are likely to be other contributing factors but these two factors may well explain a large part of the higher rates in Wide Bay."

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But Dr Young said Fraser Coast residents could control the problem.

"People can make better choices about what they eat, they can choose to not smoke or quit smoking, and they can choose to drink less," she said.

"These health choices are an investment in your quality of life in the short term and the long term.

"I encourage everyone to be more active, eat healthier and make lifestyle changes to improve their health.

"A small change every day can have long-term benefits."

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington said the results were concerning and he encouraged locals to consider how obesity was impacting on their health and lifestyle.

"Obesity is a significant and growing problem in the Wide Bay with around one in three locals now classified as obese," Mr Pennington said.

"This puts them at much greater risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes - which can lower the quality and length of life. In turn, the higher rate of these diseases and conditions in the Wide Bay creates a huge strain on our local hospitals as they treat people who present due to the health complications."

Bad habits

  • 30% of residents are obese which is 32% higher than the state figure
  • 19% smoke daily which is 47% higher than the state figure
  • 8% hospitalisations are avoidable
  • 25% of deaths are avoidable
  • Median age of death is 79 years old