Queenslanders weigh heavy on health report card

Queensland has claimed the title of the heaviest state in Australia, with one quarter of all deaths directly or indirectly linked to diet, the 2014 The Health of Queenslanders Report* has revealed.

Cancer Council Queensland has backed calls from the Chief Health Officer for Queenslanders to get moving, bin the junk food and make better diet decisions for their overall health.

The new report reveals Queensland has the highest rates of both adult and child obesity nationally, with 65 per cent of adults and 28 per cent of children weighing in as overweight or obese.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO said the report was a wake-up call.

“The overweight and obesity epidemic is more than just a personal problem for those affected – it’s a community challenge that we must address by working together to find ways of getting people moving more and eating less unhealthy food,” Prof Dunn said.

“The Chief Health Officer’s report is a wake-up call for workplaces, schools, community groups, non-government organisations and all levels of government.

“We must find ways of arresting this crisis to preserve future quality of life for Queenslanders.

“Beyond the debilitating personal toll of overweight and obesity, and the increased risks of cancer and other chronic diseases, this epidemic threatens to stifle our productivity and severely hamper the health system.”

The report found obesity had increased by 22 per cent in four years, with 40,000 people becoming obese each year.

Prof Dunn said it was particularly concerning that the average weight of Queensland adults had increased three kilos in just a decade.

“If this trend continues, our next generation will tip the scales at an average adult weight never before seen in history,” Prof Dunn said.

“More than a million Queensland adults are now impacted by obesity, although one-third of overweight and obese Queenslanders do not recognise they have a health problem.

“We must find ways of encouraging one another to work towards a healthy weight, limiting sedentary behaviour and boosting health and happiness through physical activity and a healthy diet.”

According to the report, junk food comprises one-third of the average Queenslander’s daily energy intake.

“Too many cakes, pastries, biscuits and sugary drinks are threatening to cut our lives short,” Prof Dunn said.

“Soft drink has supersized us, with as many as 12 per cent of Queensland adults and eight per cent of children drinking it every day.

“Food and drink that were once considered occasional treats have made their way into our daily diets, with damaging consequences for our health.

“Diet choices are the leading risk of disease burden in Australia, accounting for one in four deaths in Queensland.”

The Health of Queenslanders Report 2014 also revealed a decline in smoking rates, with 14 per cent of Queensland adults smoking daily in 2014, a 26 per cent reduction in the past decade.

“The smoking trends in the report are encouraging, but there are still 500,000 adult smokers in Queensland,” Prof Dunn said.

“With one in four Queensland cancer deaths caused by smoking, we urgently need smoke free spaces at bus stops, taxi ranks, ferry terminals, and pedestrian malls.”

Earlier this week, a Queensland Parliamentary Committee recommended statewide smoking bans at public transport waiting points and pedestrian malls, in response to Cancer Council recommendations.

“Smoke free spaces will protect people from the harmful effects of smoking, encourage more smokers to quit, and prevent more young people from taking up this lethal habit,” Prof Dunn said.

“We commend the Queensland Parliamentary Committee for its action to protect the public from harm.

“We also welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the Department of Health consider extending existing and proposed smoking bans to outdoor areas frequented by the public, including, for example, TAFE colleges,” he said.

Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at quest.org.au.

Cancer Council Queensland commended the Health Minister and Chief Health Officer on The Health of Queenslanders Report, and their recommendations to help Queenslanders live happier, healthier lives.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council QueenslandPh: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Fifth report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland, The Health of Queenslanders Report 2014.