North Coast residents exercise more and eat their vegies, but they still drink and smoke to excess.

The NSW Chief Health Officer’s report – 2008 Health of the People of NSW Summary Report – gives the latest snapshot of the North Coast’s health behaviours and shows a mixed pattern, with males and females:

  • Doing more exercise than the State average (64.5% compared with 62.1% for males, and 49.7% compared with 47.6% for women)
  • Eating significantly more vegetables (10.8 % of males having the recommended consumption, compared with 7.2% Statewide; females, 17.4% compared with 13.8%).

The North Coast Area Health Service says these figures may help account for residents over 16 years having lower than Statewide average rates of overweight and obesity – males 55.4% (NSW: 58.8%) and females 44.6% (NSW: 44.7%).

This mirrors overall findings that show NSW residents living longer and healthier lives than in the past, with the State having Australia’s lowest rates of cancer death and heart disease.

However, obesity rates on the North Coast still remain unacceptably high, and this poses major health risks, according to Ms Uta Dietrich, NCAHS Director of Health Promotion.

Ms Dietrich also expressed concern about the region’s high rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption.

“The current smoking rate for North Coast males is 26.1% (NSW: 21.9%) and for females is 17.5% (NSW: 15.4%),” she said.

“Just as disturbing are the alcohol consumption rates – 49.1% for males drinking at risky levels (NSW: 37.2%) and 27.5% of females (NSW: 27.0%).”

As well as health behaviours the report reveals that the North Coast’s population is still socio-economically disadvantaged: 

  • 17.8% of households earn less than $500 per week (NSW: 12.1%)
  • Only 8.2% of households earn more than $2000 per week (NSW: 21.7%).

“However, some of the news is good, including an improvement in the vaccination rates, which confirms that a number of our health promotion initiatives are proving successful,” Ms Dietrich said.