SEVILLE Grove, Kelmscott and Armadale are tipping the scales, with more than two-thirds of residents estimated to be overweight or obese.
According to Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) data, 71.2 per cent of Seville Grove residents, 66.7 per cent of Camillo, Champion Lakes and Kelmscott residents and 70 per cent of Armadale, Wungong and Brookdale residents are estimated to be overweight or obese.
This puts the areas into the top 15 biggest suburbs in Perth, with Seville Grove and Armadale taking out the top two spots respectively.
Curtin University lecturer Kyla Ringrose, from the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Technology, said carrying excessive weight increased the risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
“I think high numbers of overweight and obese adults reflect changes in our environment,” Dr Ringrose said.
“We know that our environment makes it easy for us to eat too much and move too little. It’s easy to sit all day at work, then sit in front of the screen at night, without making time for physical activity.
“People have to make a conscious effort to make healthy choices.”
Dr Ringrose said both adults and children were susceptible to poor body image or low self-esteem related to their weight, which could make them want to stop participating in activities altogether.
Figures from the same AHPC study show more than two in three locals have done little to no exercise in the previous week.
Heart Foundation WA nutrition manager Emma Groves said the foundation was concerned about an environment saturated by convenient, unhealthy foods.
“You drive to work or to school and go past fast food places with deals, you go in to pay your fuel and you’re surrounded by drinks and chocolates; it’s easier to find a vending machine than it is to find a drinking fountain,” she said.
She recommended reducing portion sizes or sharing serves of unhealthy meals and taking any opportunity to move more during the day.
“Look for ways in which you can move in your normal day: taking the stairs, walking between meetings, walking or cycling to school,” she said.
Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones said the issue had been the subject of much discussion in the community since the statistics were released.
“My first response is that the community affected by these statistics should be taking greater notice of the health issues involved,” he said.
“In the case of school age children, parents need to be more responsive, followed by the education system which has the most contact with the children of those families.”
Mr Zelones said the City was one of the first to employ a public health and wellbeing plan and a dedicated health and wellbeing officer.
The plan includes strategies to increase opportunities and support for residents to lead healthy lives, including managing the Armadale Arena, soon-to-be-reopened Armadale Aquatic Centre, and free activity programs.