Regional men more prone to heart disease and obesity

AUSTRALIAN men who live and work in regional areas experience higher prevalence of being overweight and obese, and are more prone to cardiovascular diseases than those in major cities.

They also lead unhealthier lifestyles and are more likely to drink and smoke, and not meet recommended physical activity guidelines.

This has a severe impact on the public health care system.

A study in the latest issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, published by Sports Medicine Australia, has found Australian men, over the age of 40 with no post-high school education living and working in regional areas were most at risk of not meeting recommended physical activity guidelines.

The study, titled "The characteristics of inactive men working in a regional area of Queensland," Australia, found that these men had a 20% higher risk of not meeting physical activity guidelines.

Physical activity has been shown to vastly improve the health outcomes of people suffering from obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to study author Jason Wong, treating chronic diseases in regional areas puts pressure on our health care system.

"Our findings indicate that regional men above 40 years old were more likely to be inactive then those below 40 years old," Dr Wong said. 

"Since physical activity is a modifiable behaviour that can reduce risk factors linked to the development of many chronic diseases, we should intervene at this age group to cushion the impact on our health care system."

Wong also said it was important to research this section of the Australian population because, "this group of men can be hard-to-reach".

"Part of the issue with this age group of men could be that they stopped playing sport or have different priorities," he said.

"Following this study, we examined challenges and perceptions of physical activity opportunities for these men.

"Many of them used to be very active when they were younger but are less active now. Some of the reasons are injuries, family commitments, and irregular work hours."

While the study focused on regional Queensland, Wong believes the results would translate to other regional areas in Australia.

The next step is to find ways to encourage this age group back into physical activity.

"I would like to see more attention and funding for this age group of men. The workplace is ideal to reach out to them because men spend a significant amount of time at work," he said. 

"It would be ideal if we could work in partnership with employers to introduce health promotion or physical activity initiatives during, before or after work time to improve the health of these men."

Topics:  health men's health obesity

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