VIDEO: Staines to cut himself out of the statistics

HE'S the voice at John Dahl Pool, the never slowing Hogs Breath owner, 2016 councillor candidate and Michael Morgan admirer we all know well, but there's another side to Alex Staines you might not know.

He stops breathing when he sleeps, can't interact with his children like he hoped to and his health is suffering.
It's all because he is overweight.

He is not the only one struggling with a weight issue. An in-depth analysis of data from the Social Health Atlas of Australia reveals about one third of Gladstone's population is obese.

Alex Staines explains why he's having surgery, and that his lifestyle would be similar to that of many others in the Gladstone region:

Over 33% of us, in fact. Our obesity rate is eight percentage points higher than Brisbane's.

But it's not the only statistic that shows Gladstone's residents long-term outlook is dire.

The Observer is ramping up our Fair Go for Gladstone campaign in the lead-up to the mooted July 2 double dissolution election.

We are calling for iron-clad federal guarantees on a range of issues including health, education and employment so we can have the same advantages and outcomes as metropolitan Australia.

The analysis of data shows the following alarming health trends.

  • At least 20.4% of Gladstone residents smoke compared to 14.5% of Brisbane residents.
  • About 5.6% of our region's residents drink alcohol to excess. This figure is higher than Brisbane's 4.9%.
  • Gladstone's suicide rate was 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents between 2009 and 2012. This figure was above Brisbane's rate of 11 deaths per 100,000.
  • Our avoidable cancer death rate of 110.9 per 100,000 residents from 2009 to 2012 was significantly higher than Brisbane's 93.6.
  • Deaths from avoidable heart disease in the same period hit 27.6 per 100,000 in Gladstone. This was higher than the Brisbane and national rates of 25 and 25.6 respectively.
  • About a third of Gladstone's population is obese. At 33.2%, our obesity rate is eight percentage points higher than Brisbane where 25.2% of the population is obese.

The recent Medical Research and Rural Health - Garvan Report 2015 confirms death rates from chronic and avoidable diseases increase the further you get from capital cities.

The Garvan Research Foundation found regional areas had steeper rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and mental health problems.

The report reveals many reasons for the health disparities, but most of them revolve around a set of social factors that include smaller household incomes, higher risk jobs such as mining and farming, a lack of similar specialist medical services compared to metropolitan Australia and the higher cost of transporting healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegies to our region.

"The foundation of all good policy is a solid information base and a good understanding of the realities facing any sector of the population," Garvan chief executive Andrew Giles said.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Stephen Parnis agreed, saying it would take long-term commitments from successive governments to reverse Gladstone's negative health trends.

Dr Parnis said the first step towards bridging the gaps was ensuring our region had the same health services as those available to capital city residents.

"We recently increased our recommendation to the government that a third of the nation's medical student intake be from a country area," Dr Parnis said.

"We've also talked about regional training networks so when doctors are training to be specialists, they spend as much time as possible in a certain region because it promotes familiarity and helps them put down roots."

Alex has made the decision to improve his life after meeting with a laparoscopic surgeon in Rockhampton when his health started to be affected by his weight.

Alex Staines has made the life changing decision of having lap band surgery.
Alex Staines has made the life changing decision of having lap band surgery. Paul Braven

His sleep apnoea, caused by his weight, affects his energy levels and he would love to be able to be more active with his sporty children.

How he is going to do that is by removing two thirds of his stomach.

Alex, who owns Hogs Breath and is on the board of GAPDL, has had two consultations with a Rockhampton surgeon who will perform laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery on July 11.

"With the lifestyle I lead, a similar lifestyle to many, my wife is a shift worker, one child is in high school the other is in primary school and they are involved in numerous sporting activities," the 39-year-old said. "Your health seems to take a back seat."

He'll stay in Rockhampton for a week after surgery in case there are complications and watch the third State of Origin away from home.

He has tried to lose his excess baggage through the traditional methods of exercise and dieting but as the Atkins diet fell by the wayside the weight would come back with interest.

"Working in the food industry because you've got those aromas and you're working during those traditional eating times you finish work and then I eat a large amount of food," he said. "Once you stop working the aromas of food sink in and the hunger sets in and I eat a large amount of food."

The sleeve limits the amount Alex eats by removing the lateral two thirds of the stomach, leaving a tube instead of a pouch.

"I am 40 years of age this year and I want to make sure I am around for another 40 years," he said.

GET GLADSTONE A FAIR GO: Have you got a story to share? We want to hear from you. Email us at or call reporter Campbell Gellie on 4970 3070.

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