It's time to get moving. It could save your life.
New data from The Heart Foundation of Australia has revealed the Central West has the fourth-highest rate of obesity across the entire state, which is coupled with an alarming complacency in regards to exercise and heart health.
The data shows around 42 per cent of adults living in the Central West are defined as 'obese' and was released in line with The Heart Foundation's new Personal Walking Plans program, an initiative to get more Australians moving.
The figures also show the Central West ranks in the top 10 of 28 regions state-wide in terms of smoking, high blood pressure and physical inactivity as well, with more than 69 per cent of people fitting into the latter category.
Our research suggests that while many Australians know that movement is good for their hearts, they are not acting on this.Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly
The data takes in results from areas like Orange, Bathurst, Cowra, Mudgee and Lithgow among others and also includes figures relating to hospital admissions as a result of heart attacks, and other heart-related diseases as well.
Lithgow's Crossfit champion and Club Revive Crossfit Uplift gym owner Chris Kable said that heart disease was avoidable for a large percentage of those at risk.
"Just by making a few lifestyle changes by increasing your daily movement and eating a healthy diet can lower your heart disease risk considerably," he said.
"Starting an exercise and diet routine and keeping it consistent for long enough to see changes is really hard for most people to do on their own."
Kable said just struggling with where to start can be enough to deter most people from even beginning.
"A gym is a place with qualified professionals who can set you on the right path. Personal Trainers are really good at motivating you through the tough times and keeping you accountable when you lose focus," he said.
"Gyms are full of people aiming for the same goals as you, these people become a part of your support crew."
Kable said gyms weren't a place to feel afraid of.
"Gyms are a community of people working their buts off to achieve their goals," he said.
"A good gym will make you feel welcome and comfortable they are a very positive place."
The Central West ranks 16th across the state in terms of heart attack hospitalisations at a rate of 14.9 people for every 10,000, which sits about three per cent above the state-wide average.
While the rate of hospitalisation for coronary heart disease is about 19 per cent below the state average, the death rate in that category across the region is nine per cent above it. At a rate of 70.5 deaths for every 100,000 people, the region ranks ninth in NSW.
The Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said the numbers are cause for concern.
He explained that while two in three people said they were aware exercise lowers their risk of heart disease, two thirds admitted they do not meet the standard for physical activity guidelines of 30 moderate minutes five or more days a week.
Those numbers came from a survey of more than 7,000 adults, with more than 40 per cent revealing they had been told by doctors they needed to be more active.
"Our research suggests that while many Australians know that movement is good for their hearts, they are not acting on this," he said.
"This is extremely concerning given physical activity is a key risk factor for heart disease, which takes 50 Australian lives each day - one every 29 minutes."
To encourage more activity, The Heart Foundation launched its free, six-week Personal Walking Plans program, in which participants will receive a tailored plan based around their current activity levels.
Plans will be delivered via weekly emails and texts and people can sign up on The Heart Foundation's website.
Overindulging in junk food
Nearly four in five Australians overindulge in junk food every day, according to research by the CSIRO.
CSIRO wants people to change their approach to eating "discretionary items" and has released a free online junk food analyser to help.
"Discretionary or junk foods are the number one issue affecting Australian diets today," CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said.
Excessive consumption results in poor nutrition, high rates of obesity and an even higher risk of lifestyle diseases, she added.
The CSIRO analysed data from a survey of more than 230,000 Australian adults collected between 2015 and 2020.
It found almost 80 per cent of them consume too much "discretionary food" and that, on average, adults are eating about twice the amount of it recommended by national dietary guidelines.
A whopping 5.1 servings are consumed on average each day, the equivalent of about 3000 kilojoules, or 20 small solid chocolate Easter eggs.
Top "weaknesses" were alcohol (21 per cent of discretionary food intake), cakes and biscuits (19), sugar sweetened beverages (12) and savoury pies and pastries (nine).
"While these types of foods and drinks are often high in sugar, kilojoules and fat, they do bring enjoyment, which means alternative methods must be explored in helping people enjoy their favourite treats in the context of a healthy diet," Dr Hendrie said.
A range of strategies to help people reduce kilojoule intake are modelled in the junk food analyser, not just cutting food altogether, she added.
"That might include choosing to eliminate alcohol, taking a break from cakes and biscuits and halving confectionery consumption."
Want to take the test? See http://www.junkfoodanalyser.com
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