Nearly half Northern Rivers residents overweight or obese

THE Northern Rivers region is feeling the squeeze, with more than 68,000, or nearly 47% of residents, fighting the flab.

New University of Adelaide research shows 18,395 men and 15,852 women living in the Lismore, Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Kyogle council areas are obese.

And a further 19,497 men and 15,181 women are overweight.

That is almost one in two people tipping the scales above their healthy size, but the news for the nation is worse.

An incredible 62.8% of Aussies are overweight or obese, according to the Australian Health Survey, just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on which the research is modelled.

In the next five years, 66% of us are expected to be overweight or obese.

Obesity figures for the Northern Rivers
Obesity figures for the Northern Rivers

"Unfortunately we are not taking responsibility for our weight and doing something about those extra kilograms," said personal trainer Josie Cain, whose clients range from parents to professionals.

"Eating takeaway food like pizza twice a week has become normal, when it should be a once-a-year event," Ms Cain said.

"And, even if we try to eat a healthy roll, we forget about the extra fat such as the margarine, mayonnaise and cheese," she said.

Ms Cain slammed fast weight-loss programs where people were plunged into bootcamp-type fitness activities before they were ready.


  • Adults spend an average of just 30 minutes a day doing physical activity.
  • Underweight/normal adults were 1.4 times more likely to exercise than obese adults.
  • Sedentary activity occupied an average 39 hours a week for adults, with close to 10 hours of this sitting at work.
  • People employed in sedentary occupations spent 22 hours on average sitting at work.
  • Watching television accounted for nearly 13 hours a week.
  • Less than one in five adults (19%) recorded 10,000 steps a day, the number considered healthy.

SOURCE: Australian Health Survey, ABS


"You may have to start out just walking around the block before you are ready to run up to Byron Lighthouse," she said.

Lismore Body Balance Nutrition dietitian Adelle Purbrick agreed, saying eating habits needed to change for the long term to achieve gradual and sustained weight loss.

Ms Cain said many people felt they couldn't afford to join a gym, or hire a trainer, but the cost would be less than a bottle of wine and a takeaway on Friday night.

Beer and Pizza

  • The average Aussie drinks 104.7 litres of beer a year, with consumption ranking us fourth in the world behind the Czech Republic (156.9 litres), Ireland (131.1 litres) and Germany (115.8 litres). They also drink 29 litres of wine.
  • A new report on the nation's eating habits shows that Australians make 51.5 million visits to fast food restaurants every month. McDonald's topped the list as the most popular fast food brand among Australians, with 42% of Australians visiting a McDonald's restaurant in the past four weeks. It was followed by Subway (29%), KFC (23%), Hungry Jack's (16%) and Domino's Pizza (11% ).

SOURCE: ABS and Enhanced Media Metrics Australia

"We waste so much time on excuses when the secret is to just do it," she said.

Health problems related to excess weight impose substantial economic burdens on individuals, families and communities.

Data from an Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study indicates the direct cost for overweight and obesity in 2005 was $21 billion, with an indirect cost of $35.6 billion in the year.

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