Lifestyle a weighty challenge

No easy way: “You won’t find time for exercise: you have to make it.” — nutritionist Matt O’Neill.THE results are in and Penrith/St Marys gets an “F”, for fat.

New national health research suggests 64 per cent of adults in the Nepean and Blue Mountains suburbs are overweight or obese.

The National Health Performance Authority study found 29 per cent of people in the region were obese and 35 per cent classed as overweight.

The statistics are a concern to medical practitioners, as they far exceed the 48 per cent total recorded for eastern Sydney’s population.

Louisa Jorm, from the University of Western Sydney’s Centre for Health Research, said lifestyle factors played a big role in theproblem.

“It really relates to two things,” she said.

“Too much food and calories, and not enough expenditure of energy.

“Living and working conditions — at least in some parts of western Sydney — promote both of those things.”

Professor Jorm said research showed healthy food was not as affordable in the western suburbs as the city.

“The big issue,” she said, “is not enough physical activity.”

“We know that people who spend two, two-and-a-half hours a day in a car travelling to work don’t get time to exercise.”

Walter Kmet, chief executive of WentWest, said the prevalence of conditions such as type 2 diabetes were greater in western Sydney for the same reasons.

Dietician Matt O’Neill said several lifestyle factors caused weight problems.

“There are many factors applying to people’s lifestyles that contribute to weight gain and obesity,” he said.

“Fast food is becoming increasingly accessible and cheaper.

“I mean, who can argue with a $2 cheeseburger when a salad roll costs two or three times as much to buy from a takeaway shop?

“There are also lifestyle factors, like fewer opportunities for exercise and an over-reliance on vehicles for travel.”

Mr O’Neill said turning the problem around needed a concerted effort. “You won’t find the time for exercise: you’ve got to make it”.

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