Health crisis: new report reveals extent of obesity, disease and smoking in the north

A new study has revealed obesity rates in the northern suburbs are some of the highest in the state.

GAWLER South has been named one of the state’s areas with the highest obesity rates, along with a number of areas in the Playford Council region.

The statistics, released by Torrens University’s Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) last Tuesday revealed Davoren Park had the highest rate of obesity in the state at 55.5 per cent.

Other Playford Council areas Elizabeth, Smithfield and Elizabeth North came in second on the list with a rate of 52 per cent.

The Gawler South area, including Evanston, Evanston Garden, Evanston Park and Kudla had the equal-third highest obesity rate with 43 per cent, as did Elizabeth East.

The northern suburbs were also prone to high levels of other health-related issues, with Elizabeth, Smithfield and Elizabeth North having the highest percentage of smokers per population, diabetes sufferers and psychological distress.

Davoren Park also had the highest rate of stroke, heart and vascular diseases instances with 6.6 per cent.

PHIDU director John Glover said the findings proved health problems disproportionately affect those from a low socio-economic area.

“These public health figures disturbingly reveal, yet again, the poorer health outcomes for people in our community who are most disadvantaged,” he said.

“Although the rates of chronic disease and health risks are estimates, they are based on the best available data and indicate the magnitude of the differences in health status that exist in Australia.

“We hope these latest findings provide even more impetus for health policymakers, agencies and providers to address the health inequalities facing disadvantaged South Australians.”

During last year’s Australian Senate inquiry into the rate of Newstart payments, Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty was grilled by senators on his council’s programs aimed at helping low-income individuals eat healthier.

In light of the statistics, Mr Docherty said his council would continue to support those doing it tough while income support payments remained low.

“Health and wellbeing is a whole of community issue. While council is not the lead agency in public health, we understand the important role we play in planning for positive health outcomes in Playford,” he said.

“Council is supportive of a rise in Newstart payments. If there is a rise in the payment, this will assist individuals and families with helping to spend money on activities that can improve health and wellbeing.”

Sam Bradbrook

@sambradbrook

Sam Bradbrook joined The Bunyip in 2018 as a reporter and covers the Gawler, Playford and Adelaide Plains Council rounds. He graduated from the University of South Australia in the same year with a Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing and had previously interned at the Jakarta Post in Indonesia and The Courier in Mount Barker before moving to Gawler. In February of 2020, Sam was named the Young Journalist of the Year for 2019 by Country Press South Australia. He is interested in reporting on politics, healthcare, police and social issues and outside of work has a passion for sport and music.

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