Rural obesity is high

Rural Obesity

Stefan Juengling, The West Australian September 23, 2013, 3:33 pm

A recent report has found WA residents living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of mental illness and obesity.

The report, compiled by Thinktank Lateral Economics, states that people living in rural areas have less specialised support and have to deal with a greater stigma relating to mental illness.

It also found the rate of obesity among adults is increased by their remote lifestyles.

A WA Country Health Service spokesman said remote communities were typically worse off in terms of health measures and tended to engage more in risky behaviours, such as smoking and high alcohol consumption. "These factors together result in poorer health outcomes in rural and remote areas," the spokesman said.

He said isolation impacted those in remote areas like the Pilbara, as individuals felt under pressure due to separation from their families and because ancillary services found in metropolitan areas were typically not accessible.

The spokesman also noted that factors which led to obesity were more commonplace in society in general.

"There has been a significant increase in sedentary behaviours, with more and more people working in office based positions and spending more time with technology," he said.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said the State Government looked forward to working with the Commonwealth to provide better integrated services and more support for people living in regional and remote WA.

"The State Government has provided record investment of $734 million in 2013 for mental health and drug and alcohol services," she said.

Furthermore, Ms Morton recommended people and communities become more resourceful and build greater levels of resilience to live successfully in rural and remote areas.

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Urban approaches to mental health services are often not feasible or appropriate in Rural Australia.

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