Most obese Aussie suburbs named

By | October 10, 2019

Wealthy city suburbs have the least obese residents while those living in the country are much more likely to be packing on the kilograms, new data has revealed.

More than 42 per cent of the population — that’s at least four in 10 people — in Wellington, Lachlan, Forbes and Blayney in regional NSW is considered obese, according to the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.

This is three times the rate of Ku-ring-gai and Willoughby on Sydney’s upper and lower north shore respectively, which come in at less than 14.5 per cent.

The West Australian suburbs of Nedlands (12.8%), Claremont (14%), Mosman Park (14.3%) and Cambridge (14.4%) are also home to some of the least obese communities nationwide.

The health policy institute’s Professor Rosemary Calder said people have little chance of shrinking their waistlines without a change to the world around them.

“These (least obese) suburbs are usually green and leafy, with more space dedicated to parks, gardens and recreational facilities,” she said today, ahead of World Obesity Day on Friday.

“They often are well serviced by public transport, bike paths and are relatively close to where people work which enables people to be physically active in their commute to work, rather than rely on the car.

“They have a greater density of shops selling fresh fruit and veg, greater competition promoting lower prices for healthy foods and fewer fast food outlets.”

The places with the highest rates of obesity also have much higher rates of smoking, inactivity and chronic illness, and are largely seen as low socio-economic communities, Prof Calder said.

She said the statistics highlighted the impact of poverty versus wealth on a person’s health.

“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,” the professor said.

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As well as obesity statistics, the health institute also analysed data for overweight people.

The Northern Territory made the list no state or suburb wants to be on, with Katherine recording the highest rate of overweight or obese people at 77.8 per cent, or more than three quarters of its population.

This was compared to Perth, where less than half of its population are obese or overweight, topping the much more enviable list at 47 per cent.

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The Australian Health Policy Collaboration, headed by Prof Calder, wants to see Australia’s obesity rate slim down.

It’s risen 27 per cent over the past decade with three per cent of adults, nine per cent of young people and four per cent of children now considered obese across the country.

Two thirds of Australians fall into the weight brackets of overweight or obese, placing them at a much higher risk of diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, arthritis and dementia.

“We have spent too long as a nation expecting individuals to be able to change their behaviour to reduce their weight,” Prof Calder said.

“However, the evidence is very clear that this has little chance of success without a very strong focus on the environmental factors in the places where we live that contribute to poor nutrition and inactivity.”

The institute sourced its data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Health Survey 2017-18.


• Wellington, NSW 43.9%

• Katherine, NT 43.3%

• Lachlan, NSW 42.5%

• Forbes, NSW 42.5%

• Blayney, NSW 42.6%


• Katherine, NT 77.8%

• Murrumbidgee, NSW 77.3%

• Carrathool, NSW 77.2%

• Lachlan, NSW 77.1%

• Forbes, NSW 77%


• Nedlands, WA 12.8%

• Claremont, WA 14%

• Ku-ring-gai, NSW 14.2%

• Mosman Park, WA 14.3%

• Willoughby, NSW 14.4%

• Cambridge, WA 14.4%


• Perth, WA 47%

• Melbourne, Vic 48.8%

• Nedlands, WA 48.5%

• Claremont, WA 49.5%

• Cottesloe, WA 49.8%

• Mosman Park, WA 49.8%


Were you surprised by the results? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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