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Smoking and obesity higher in regional Australia


smoking cigarette

Turns out country living may not make you healthier.

New research shows Australians living in regional areas are likely to smoke more regularly and be overweight or obese, compared to those in city areas.

Reports released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), analysing Australia's Primary Health Network (PHN), found regular smoking was significantly higher throughout regional areas, despite declining daily smoking rates nationwide.

The report Healthy Communities: Tobacco smoking rates across Australia 2014/15 found Northern Sydney had the lowest rate of daily smoking (5%), while residents of Western NSW had the highest (23%).

The report revealed 14.5% of Australians were daily smokers, down from 16.1% of Aussies in 2011-12.

18% of these individuals were living in regional areas, while just 12.7% resided in metropolitan areas.

The six PHN areas with the highest smoking rates were all regional locations, while the six PHN areas with the lowest rates were all metropolitan (below).

AIHW also released its Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia 2014/15, which shows adults in Country South Australia had the highest rates of overweight adults and obesity (73%), while Northern Sydney residents had the lowest rates (53%).

Focusing just on obesity - those individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above - adults in regional Australia fared even worse.

16% of Aussies in Central and East Sydney were obese, compared with 38% in Country South Australia.

The six PHN areas with the highest overweight and obesity rates were all regional locations, while the six PHN areas with the lowest rates were all metropolitan (below).

Australia's overweight and obesity rates (63.4%) are some of the highest in the world.

Obesity can drive up your life cover and income protection rates and is a leading health concern in Australia. Find out which health funds cover weight loss programs, elective surgeries and more.

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