Smoking rates have increased in the Mackay Hospital and Health Services region since the previous health report in 2018. Picture: Danielle Butters
Smoking rates have increased in the Mackay Hospital and Health Services region since the previous health report in 2018. Picture: Danielle Butters

Region’s ‘disturbing’ health habits are getting worse

BOOZE, sunburns, cigarettes and muffin tops could be sending Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday residents to an early grave.

An investigation into the lifestyle choices of 18,000 people in the Mackay Hospital and Health Services region found residents were more likely to be daily smokers, overweight or obese, not physically active, have lifetime risky drinking habits and have been sunburnt in the past 12 months.

The Health of Queenslanders 2020 report said residents in the health service were falling short of the Queensland average in almost all risky health categories.

A quarter of Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region residents admitted to having lifetime risky drinking habits, and 65 per cent were overweight or obese.

Two in every five people said they had a binge drinking session at least once a month.

Worryingly, smoking rates have increased since the previous health report in 2018.

Two in every five people said they had a binge drinking session at least once a month.
Two in every five people said they had a binge drinking session at least once a month.

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Two years ago 10 per cent of adults smoked daily, but in 2020 that rose to 13 per cent.

Obesity rates have also increased, from 24 per cent of adults to 28 per cent.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said the downward trend was "disturbing".

"We are one of the worst communities in Australia in terms of health conditions," Cr Williamson said.

"(And) we've been in that spot for quite some time."

Cr Williamson said the council had tried to encourage residents to get out, get healthy and stay safe with events like the Spring Fit campaign.

"While health is not in our domain this is our community," he said.

Cr Williamson said the pandemic had reinforced the need for healthy lifestyle choices.

"Especially in this COVID era the last thing we want is people to get ill with diseases that could be prevented," he said.

Despite the report finding cancer was the biggest killer in the health services region, Cr Williamson said residents were not getting simple sun safe messages.

The chief health officer's investigation said 60 per cent of Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday adults reported they had been burnt over the past 12 months before their check-up.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said the downward health trends were “disturbing”. Picture: Zizi Averill
Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said the downward health trends were “disturbing”. Picture: Zizi Averill

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"I'm a product of the generation that didn't pay attention to slip, slop, slap and now we're seeing the results of that," Cr Williamson said.

"Sunburns are painful a day or so later.

"But 20 to 30 years down the track when you're removing lesions and moles - that's really painful."