Getting physical more enticing on the coast

Fitness tracker: Hunter residents living in more affluent areas close to the coast tend to be more active than those living further inland, according to Australian Health Policy Collaboration data.THE closer you live to the water in the Hunter Region, the more active you are likely to be, new data shows.

Hunter residents living near the coast in suburbs such as Merewether, Newcastle and The Junctionare more physically active than those living in Muswellbrook, Abermain and Kurri Kurri,the latest update of Health Tracker Atlas has revealed.

The study, released by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration on Tuesday, revealed suburbs inthe Hunter Valley had the highest percentage of inactive adults recorded byPopulation Health Area (PHA)in the region, while residents in affluentcoastal suburbs were morephysically active.

The Muswellbrook region had the highest percentage of “insufficiently” active residents, with 77.8 per cent of its adult populationdoing little-to-no exercise, closely followed by 75.3 per cent of people living in the Abermain and Kurri Kurri area.

By contrast, 53.6 per cent of people living in Merewether, The Junction, Newcastleand Cooks Hill were doing little or no exercise, followed by 57.4 per cent of Valentine and Eleebana residents.

The modelled estimates were based ondata for exercise for fitness, sport or recreation in the week prior to participants being interviewed, the study’s notes say.

The Health Tracker Atlas also revealed that Cessnock,Kurri Kurri and Abermainhad the highest rate of obese and overweight children aged two to 17 years old, with27.5 per cent of children considered to be in an unhealthy weight range based on their Body Mass Index (BMI).

The study showed that 27.1 per cent of children in the Mount Hutton and Windale area were overweight and obese.

On the other end of the scale, 21 per cent of children in Merewether, Newcastle, The Junction and Cooks Hillwere overweight and obese, with 21.1 per cent of childrenaged two to 17in Adamstown and Kotara considered to be in the unhealthy weight range.

Professor Rosemary Calder, public health expert and director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, told Fairfax Media that childhood obesity was a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory conditions, cancer and depression.

“For obesity to be at such high levels among this young group, something is going very wrong,”Professor Calder said.

“This is a generation that our health system is going to have to manage.”

Denise Wong See, a paediatric dietitian at John Hunter Children’s Hospital, said childhood obesity was a significant problem in region, but healthy eating and exercise programs, such as the Go4Fun initiative, were helping to stabilisethe rates.

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