CENTRAL Victorians may be suffering from diabetes, heart attacks and osteoarthritis at higher rates as statistics show more than one third of adults are obese in four of the region's council areas.
The Central Goldfields has the highest obesity rate in the state, with 36.1 per cent of adults obese.
Loddon, Greater Bendigo and Campaspe came close, with respective obesity rates of 34.8 per cent, 34.2 per cent and 33 per cent. About 70 per cent of adults in these regions are overweight and obese.
LaTrobe University Bendigo academic Brett Gordon said high obesity rates had a dramatic effect on people's lives, putting them at higher risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis.
Dr Gordon suggested factors like differing diets, activity patterns, climate, stress, and socioeconomic conditions may all be partly to blame for high rates of obesity in certain areas. He said genetics also played a role in obesity.
The Central Goldfields is the most disadvantaged council area in Victoria according to the Australian Bureau of Statistic's socio-economic index. Loddon is the fourth.
Dr Gordon said people coming from areas of lower socio-economic status tended to eat more energy dense foods, and those high in saturated fat. He said people in these areas often did not have money to access gyms, or lived in areas where distance was too great to travel actively.
Responsibility for addressing obesity in Australia spanned from individual choices to federal government health models, to local government providing facilities, Dr Gordon said. He said government should invest in prevention models for obesity, rather just treating obesity-related disease when it occurred.
City of Greater Bendigo Director of Health and Wellbeing Vicky Mason said local government was a major player when it came to preventing obesity.
Ms Mason said Greater Bendigo's high rates of disadvantage probably contributed to its high rates of obesity. She said there was a strong relationship between a person's socio-economic background and their health outcomes.
Ms Mason said parts of Bendigo with more people living below the poverty line were more likely to have higher obesity rates. She said Kangaroo Flat, Long Gully, Heathcote and parts of Eaglehawk were the city's focus in the Healthy Heart of Central Victoria project.
Central Goldfields Shire Council was contacted for comment on this piece.
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