Busy lifestyle and location can hinder fight against flab

OBESITY experts say lack of time and access to services can add to the battle of the bulge in disadvantaged areas.

While obesity is a growing problem across the country, research has found a link between lower socio-economic status and extra kilos.

Adults living in Australia's most disadvantaged communities in 2012 were about twice as likely to be obese as those in the most privileged places.

Professor Steve Allender, director of Deakin University's World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, said busy schedules and work pressures could be barriers to preparing healthy meals.

Prof Allender said access to health services was also a big issue in some areas.

"The major drivers are available time and access to services and support," Prof Allender said.

"If I'm worried about my weight and I'm an inner-city worker with a good salary it's a lot easier for me to get advice than in a rural or remote area where there might not be a dietitian."

Prof Allender said people were conditioned to respond to an environment that made an unhealthy lifestyle easier.

"There's lots of energy-dense, nutrient-poor food that is cheap - so it's easy to do things that make you overweight and hard to do things that are healthy," he said.

"We're all pushing uphill to maintain a healthy diet and healthy physical activity."

He said banning the sale of sugary drinks and highlighting healthy meal options in supermarkets would be a step in the right direction.

QUT School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences head Professor Lynne Daniels said economic disadvantage was linked to a broad range of health problems and the reasons were complex.

"For example people who have lower incomes are not able to afford to enrol in gyms, to buy expensive bikes and toys for their children that promote activity," Prof Daniels said.

The director of the Queensland Government funded PEACH program promoting healthy weight in children said lower-income families tended to live in rural and remote areas.

"There are geographical issues - services available in those areas are different to those in higher socio-economic areas," Prof Daniels said.

She said the price and convenience of fast food was also a factor when preparing food at home was difficult for people juggling shift work or several part-time jobs.

* QUT's free PEACH healthy lifestyle program for Queensland families is now available online. Phone free call 1800 263 519 or visit www.peachqld.com.au.


Lisa Williams

Obese women pay price at work

IT DOESN'T pay to be overweight in the workforce if you're a woman.

That's the verdict of studies that show obese females are more likely to earn smaller salaries and face discrimination in the job market.

A 2014 study by Vanderbilt University found obese women in the United States tended to have lower-paying jobs and were less likely to score a role that involved dealing with the public.

Obese and morbidly obese women were also over-represented in some of the lowest-paying and most physically demanding industries.

The news was better for obese men, who appeared to fare as well as their average-size colleagues.

Research has shown obese women are also more likely to be discriminated against when applying for jobs.

In an earlier study led by Monash University, participants were given fake resumes with photos of the applicants attached and asked to discuss the candidates.

Researchers used photos of six obese women and six women in a normal weight range who had undergone surgery to treat their obesity.

Participants said they were less prepared to give jobs to the obese candidates and more likely to start them on low salaries.

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